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Ministry in post-pandemic times

Ministry with children includes hands and heart

Faith formation is entering a new season as churches return to in-person activity. This Zoom session explores your questions about the return to vital ministry with children.

KATHY PITTENGER
Children’s Initiatives Coordinator, Michigan Conference

Over the last few weeks, I have been interviewing and listening to the creative ways that leaders and churches have engaged in faith formation over the last 14+ months. The ideas, imagination, and ingenuity are endless! Leaders are also asking many similar questions like: What’s next? What we were doing before didn’t work, so how can we do something different moving forward? Is there a “better normal”? Online ministry worked so well that we don’t want to walk away from it, is that ok? And many, many other questions.

If you are nodding your head in agreement because your leaders are wondering that, too, here are a few questions that may be helpful as you start thinking about ministry for the summer, fall, and beyond.

  • What is the “why” of our ministry?
  • What do we miss from before the pandemic that is important to continue or start again? Does it need to look the same, or do we need to adjust it?
  • What have we started since the pandemic that we want to keep?
  • What do we need to stop altogether? This could be pre-pandemic ministry or ministry that started due to the pandemic.
  • What have we learned about ourselves, our congregation, and our community over the past 14+ months that we need to pay attention to?
  • If we are making changes, how are we creating expectations that we are not “going back” instead, we are moving toward something?
  • While hybrid ministry in many contexts before COVID was an optional or lovely idea, for many of us moving forward, it will be a necessity. How are you reframing your approaches so that relationship is at the center and you are providing ministry opportunities both in-person and online/digitally? Listen to your congregation and community to find out how you can be in ministry to and with.

Churches in Michigan have done amazing things in the last year, finding ways to engage in faith formation and worship creatively. I have talked with churches who include at-home boxes for children and families, church in the park, including children in online worship, parenting classes on Zoom, small groups for parents on Zoom, bedtime read-alouds, playlists, Bitmoji Classrooms, drive-thru Nativities and Easter Egg Hunts, and so much more in their weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythms. We have an incredible opportunity to experiment, evaluate, learn from the successes and missteps, and repeat.

If you aren’t sure what your next steps are or if you have fantastic ideas that you would like to share, or if you and your team need a space to think about planning for the next year, save July 15th on your calendar for the Planning Your Ministry Year Event. It will be on Zoom, and more details will be posted soon here.  

I need to acknowledge that many leaders are exhausted. Burn-out is real. The emotional and mental toll of months of changing directives, difficult decisions, and fatigue are catching up. Please take time for self-care. Connect with a trusted friend, mentor, licensed counselor, or group of ministry leaders wrestling with similar questions. Take time to rest and play.

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The Michigan Conference