With so many children out of school, parents’ role in the classroom has shifted. They are now facilitators and many are first-time homeschool teachers. We have many families that are finding themselves struggling. Many parents are juggling working while trying to make sure their children get their required schoolwork done. Some parents are able to work from home but other parents are still trying to balance going in to work, but also making sure their children are supervised and doing what they need to do each day. These new times are very stressful so it’s important to serve these families.
How can we help as a church?
This unprecedented time calls for unprecedented creativity on our part. We can’t hold programs the same way we always have. We have to think outside the box and evaluate the real-life needs of the families in our congregations.
Recruit online tutors
There are probably retired school teachers or professionals in your congregation that are willing to tutor some of these students that are trying to do their schooling at home. Parents are doing their best, but between time and just ability many can’t help their kids with every assignment. As a church, you can compile a list of willing adults that could connect by phone or online to help students with assignments. Maybe someone’s specialty is high school science, perfect! Connect them with your Youth Minister who can find out which students need help. Someone used to be an English teacher? Great!
Your staff can organize and facilitate making sure the students in your congregation don’t fall behind in their studies. The beauty of this is you are also creating connections in your congregation that can be healthy and life-giving far beyond this crisis. And you are helping ease the burden that parents are trying to bear.
Connect Older Parents with Younger Parents
None of us feel like we know what we’re doing right now. I venture to say none of us have lived through a pandemic before. Our families are juggling many things right now.
Your church staff could pair parents with older children, even young adults, up with parents that have younger children.
While we’re still quarantined and social distancing, these families could really serve each other. Parents with older children have wisdom and advice that younger parents could really use right now! If the older parents begin checking in with the younger parents a couple of times a week, they may discover ways that they can encourage and serve these families. It might look like dropping off milk and bread on their doorstep, giving advice on a parenting issue, letting them borrow their weed eater, or dropping by a bag of surprises for the kids to pass the time.
Just creating community in this season when it feels like we’ve been stripped of all normal relationships, can be very lifegiving.
Meet Physical Needs
Use some of the budget that’s not currently being utilized during this time of social distancing to discover and meet the physical needs of families and individuals in your congregation. There might be a single parent that just got laid off. Buy a week’s worth of groceries and drop it off. Deliver gift cards to individuals that have lost their jobs or are currently not being paid. Send pizza one night to all of your families with school-aged children as a treat and a break for the parents. Drop off bags of staples on the doorstep of all of your elderly members.
Provide Resources Online
Many churches are finding ways to live stream their service or post it online. This is a great time though to also find ways to create and post content for your children and youth online. There are many resources that you can connect families with such as YouVersion and Rightnow Media. Post links to videos, devotions, articles and even coloring sheets. Many larger churches are even making their children’s and youth content free so smaller churches can utilize them for their own congregation. Take some time to research and then provide your families with things to help their children and youth continue to grow during this time.
Have a Virtual Children’s Church/Youth Group
There are celebrities and teachers all over the world hosting a virtual storytime/lessons every day. Why can’t your church do the same thing to make sure your students are receiving Biblical instruction? It can be as easy as your Children’s Minister doing a Facebook live of a Bible story and a sing-a-long. Or your Youth Minister leading the students in worship and then doing the weekly teaching. You can do it through Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or Zoom. We live in an age where technology can be a huge distraction but it also can keep us connected. Use it to stay connected with your students and their families. Remind them that you are still there for them.
Celebrate your Student’s Birthdays
Most churches have a database of the families they serve that includes their birthdates. Figure out which of your children and youth have birthdays in the next 30 days. Send a card and call them on their birthday. Better yet create a fun care package and drop it off on their doorstep on their special day. It will mean so much to them to be remembered and feel connected to their church family during this time of forced isolation.
Make sure your families know you’re praying for them. Send out an email with your prayer written down. It may sound insignificant but in this time of high stress, it’s so comforting to know that our spiritual leaders are praying for and over us. Your greatest service to your families will be praying for them. And through praying for them, the Lord will most certainly reveal new ways for you to serve them during this time.
We are in an unusual time in history that may change the world as we know it. This is the exact time when the church must rise up and love our people well.
What is one new way your church staff can serve the families in your congregation this week?