This season is the time to innovate and create better practices for our families. So, I’m here challenge you (and myself) to take advantage of the opportunity you have to innovate and create new, healthy patterns. There’s so much that we need to be consider!
The speed of change is disorienting at times, but if God is making all things new—and we know He is because He says He is—then perhaps this is the moment for a distinct opportunity for your ministry to have new life. Perhaps it’s time that your kids and families have new life breathed into them to go deeper with Christ, to be more known by the church, and to know each other more.
We must be vulnerable with ourselves. We must be vulnerable with where our community is, and we must be vulnerable with the fact that some of the things we were doing are not the things we need to bring with us as we move forward. And through that we recognize that God has new and good things waiting for us.
I love that when I look back through Scripture, God inspires dreaming. I’m dreaming. I want you to know dreaming can happen in the overwhelming moments, in the darkness, in the rubble, and even in the fog. So, right now, you may be feeling foggy about this whole idea of innovating and creating. Perhaps, right now, you feel like you’re completely in the dark because you don’t know what it’s going to look like when you begin again.
Or perhaps you’re starting to come back, and you’re struggling. We have to social distance, we have to wear a mask, and nothing feels normal. Dreaming can happen with God’s help and inspiration in all these moments. But it really comes down to this: We have to ask ourselves: What is the most loving decision that we can make on behalf of God?
For those we serve—our families and their children—what is the most loving decision we can make on behalf of God? That’s where we begin, and that’s where we end.
The Year of Blindness
When COVID hit, most of us thought we were all staying home for two weeks and then we’d come back. We thought we would bounce back pretty quickly, especially since Easter was around the corner.
But we did not bounce back. We’ve all been in the strange season, but in the season, it was still important to me to connect with my families and try to make sure that we cared for them. And, remember, I wanted to begin and end with love.
As January 2020 began, you guys probably had these kinds of fun themes: 2020 the year of great vision. The year blindness is the way it should have been marketed. We were all going to go into the dark. None of us knew what we were going to be doing. And we were all going to try lots of different things.
Well, it was a year blindness for my families too. Our families were suddenly aware of how blind they were to lead their children in their own faith without Sunday school being fully available for their kids. And I don’t know if your kids or families felt that way, but suddenly our parents were begging for equipping. They wanted tools. And this is something I’ve felt passionate about for a long time.
Spreading God’s Story Like Confetti
We felt we had always been training toward this, but suddenly we were in this place where people recognized they felt ill-equipped. This was a vulnerable moment when they admitted that they needed to know how to share God’s story. They needed to know how to connect with their children in prayer.
And as leaders, we thought it was great, and we started again. They needed encouragement because they themselves were feeling so low and overwhelmed. And so, we decided to bring out something super fun.
We decided to bring out glitters’ very close first cousin—confetti—and we launched the theme “Spreading God’s Story Like Confetti.”
We started with an envelope for our families that was full of lots of great things. From information about where we were in God’s Big Story and what we were going to be focusing on to introducing our staff to some memory verses. And then there were these great confetti poppers that we included. This was all to engage our families.
You guys, confetti goes everywhere. Let me just tell you, especially in the wind, it can go everywhere. And we wanted God’s Story to go everywhere because right now their houses are spread across Kansas City. Some of our people live as far as 45 minutes away from our church.
They were spread out, and we wanted to make sure God’s Story got to all those places. We began with asking volunteers who have been partnering with us in the past to shoot videos and to say, Hey, this is my favorite God Story, and then they would pop confetti poppers. Well, it was so fun to see our leaders share the stories of their favorite God moments in the Bible, that we decided to put that in the hands of all of our kids.
We sent packets with all these details and poppers for every kid. And we asked parents to please film their child and ask them these questions and have them pull these poppers.
We put up more pictures and videos of kids saying, Hey, my favorite big God Story moment is this. And then they would share who told them the story—whether it was their dad or their Sunday school teacher. It made a huge impact.
Helping Families Where They Are
Some of you in your creativity this past summer probably did a VBS in a box. I saw lots of churches doing that, and I loved it. But what we decided was that maybe our families needed a little confetti in a box. So, we began putting together boxes that would equip them over a few months.
This is what our families were asking for. That may not be what your families are asking for, but this is where creativity and innovation come into play.
In our most recent boxes, we encouraged families to set goals together in January. We encouraged them to encourage others, and, of course, we included more confetti. My team also wrote a tool for our families sharing stories and helps for prayer. We even gave them some books.
Our families do pay for these, but it’s what they want, so they are willing. It’s important to remember that. What do your families want and need? That will inspire you to move forward in creativity and innovation.
We do these boxes every three months. We create a new one based on what we’re hearing from parents. And my team is not brilliant at coming up with things. We really watch different threads and search Facebook or Pinterest. And we pray and ask God what He has for our people.
We’ve done A Very Merry Confetti Christmas where we gave Advent cards, and we’ve done a Virtual Valentine’s Party where we had a scavenger hunt with all different challenges—even running a card over to a neighbor. And now we are working our way toward Easter with a walk-through event for our families where we’ll have “live” scenes they can walk by and engage with.
We recognize that in many of our Sunday school lessons we go from “Palm Sunday” to “Jesus has Risen”—and we want to recognize the reason why we celebrate … even through those hard moments that took place in between. So, it will be a great social distancing activity for our families.
We’re Going to Keep Up What’s Working
Our parents asked for equipping for their home, and we want to continue to build on that way out into the future. We’ll keep ding-dong ditching their homes with fun goodies that go with the themes. And we’ll continue our boxes and events.
We are determined for our church to reach out to them where they are in each season and to continue loving them where they are. And I think that is such a show of what Jesus is like.
So, again, we’ve got to begin and end with love.
My encouragement to you is to consider where you really are with God. Your vulnerability and the vulnerability of your families is the place to begin when it comes to innovating and creating change. And remember this: The things you were doing in 2019 are not going to fit a 2021 lifestyle. And the people you had in 2019 may only be two years older, but they’re not the same people anymore.
Lastly, be mindful. Don’t triage your people. Any time you take something away (like VBS), be sure to replace it with something new. Give them hope and encouragement—even when it looks different than the past.