Unless you been living under a rock, it’s hard to escape the non-stop news and opinions of COVID-19. This virus has literally changed everything about how Hope operates as a church, including our NextGen Ministry.
For example, if parents are not gathering for weekend services, then the kids are not going to be there either. Therefore, our NextGen team has had to move everything online. This is a bit more complex than just recording or live-streaming one person speaking at a podium. We create multiple interactive lessons for every single age group, including preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school, that are being posted every week.
This new online world has been tough to navigate and it’s hard to really know how effective it has been for our families. Originally it seemed more like a short-term solution, but as we all know, these lock-downs have now gone on for 6 months. Over time, as Hope has been considering how to go about reopening our NextGen activities, I’ve had to ask myself a question I never expected to ask… “Should we ever go back to ‘normal?’”
There are 168 hours in the week, and most kids (if they get at least 8 hours of sleep per day) are awake for about 112 of those hours. If children only get one hour of instruction on Sundays, that means 99 percent of the time they are learning from someone else, somewhere else. If that 99 percent goes against God’s teachings, or if it even just ignores God and implies He is not worth discussing, then that kind of “instruction” will easily overwhelm the one percent of time spent in church. And since the kids aren’t in church anymore, what percent has it become?
Hear me out on this: We need pastors in the home! The role of church leaders is to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). This includes equipping parents to disciple their own children. Churches should be providing parents with the tools they need to be the lead pastors in their own homes. That is you and I (By the way, grandparents, aunts, and uncles count too).
The coronavirus shutdowns should be seen as an opportunity. With no “Sunday School” (or school in general) where we can passively drop our kids off, parents have had to take an active role in educating their kids. So while we will absolutely return to having our corporate NextGen Ministry someday, we will also continue to equip parents to minister to their kids in the home. For those of you who have been teaching and discipling your children for the first time these past few months, keep up the good work.
Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “You shall teach them (God’s Words) to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” All parents should be training their kids, all the time. As church leaders, our job is to equip parents to do that, not just do it for you.
We all have a part to play moving forward this fall. Things won’t be easy, but our desire is to see 100% of Hopesters involved in something going on at Hope every week. Whether you have kids or not, head over to our August Calendar and find something you can be involved with. We are excited by how God is preparing us to redeem this time to bring Hope to your home!
Shane P Friesen