Holy Week of 2020 was … different. It came at the end of a Lenten season that seemed about five years long, thanks to the chaotic and ever-changing coronavirus pandemic. By the time Holy Week rolled around, my family had been in quarantine for a month, and there was no end in sight. My husband, a pastor, had been working nonstop during that month, trying to keep the congregation connected to worship and learning opportunities. But Holy Week was going to be an entirely different kind of challenge.
How could he and the rest of the ministry team help congregation members learn and grow in faith if they weren’t going to be together during the holiest of weeks? Usually, we’d gather together for worship and other special events on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and then Easter Sunday’s festival celebration. This year, we were all sequestered at home, scattered and isolated.
Many areas around the United States are cautiously reopening following months of city- and state-mandated quarantines during the coronavirus outbreak. Congregations, their pastors, and church workers are struggling to find the right balance between enthusiastically welcoming people back to in-person worship and education programs, providing programs that adhere to local health requirements and ordinances, and offering ongoing support for individuals and families who simply can’t return in-person just yet. It’s a tough balancing act, and much patience and grace are needed as we figure out what things like Sunday School and confirmation and youth group continue to look like during a pandemic.
Many families are beginning this new school year with some version of distance learning taking place in their homes. How can we make this challenging situation a little bit easier for busy parents and help encourage our kids to grow in their faith at the same time? Here are a few ideas to help you set a daily routine for your distance learners!
My family moved last fall, and we’re still adjusting to new routines in our new city and state. One of the major differences between our old and new hometowns is the school schedule. There, kids are in school through the middle of June. Here, school’s out for the summer by mid-May! The end of the school year has snuck up on me, and I’m scrambling to plan some intentional summer fun for my three young boys to fill the days with more than just screen time and naps. I’m taking the opportunity to freshen up our play space, toss out the broken toys, rotate the books, and make things more age appropriate. Good-bye soft infant toys (sob!), hello wooden blocks, LEGOs, and train tracks. Seasonal books are being packed away, and I’m digging out the kids’ crafts and nature activities. Everything feels refreshed, and I feel ready to tackle a new season in our new home.
With the end of the school year close at hand, many of our congregations’ Christian education programs are also winding down and getting ready for a summer break. What can you do to make sure things end well for students and volunteers?
Summer can be a challenging time for a congregation’s education ministries. The end of the school year brings with it a vacation mindset that can draw people away from regular participation in Bible study and corporate worship.