Today I hosted online Sunday school for the first time. At the end I asked the children to reach out and touch someone in their family or lift their hand to bless another person online. After that, we ended with one of our favorite songs, “God is so Good.” When we sing this song at church the teachers say, “give yourselves a hug.” My heart was about to burst as families hugged each other tightly. What a privilege to witness these holy moments of blessing at home.
In the last week I have shared about how to pray with children during this pandemic as well as how we are bringing children’s ministry online for the foreseeable future. Today I have been working on what would be helpful to send home to parents who are also now their child’s teacher. I believe there are a couple pitfalls to avoid when curating these types of resources in a time like this.
First, we need to avoid simply keeping kids busy with church-y stuff. We’ve been talking for a long time about the connections between lack of play and the rise of anxiety. Children’s ministers have been praying for an end to over scheduling kids. This time at home is a gift! Encourage kids to fill their newly free time by doing the thing that helps them learn, explore and create: play.
Second, we need to avoid creating the impression that practicing our faith is a special thing we do only when we have time. If we do, then when this is all over everything will go back to normal. All we need for everyday faith rooted in wonder is ordinary stuff, time together, and hearts open to the unexpected gifts. Let’s find ways to encourage families to take on everyday faith practices that can last. Prayers at the table and on the go. Blessing one another. Enjoying a Bible story and conversation together.
How do we do this? I am impressed with the creativity of Christian educators across the country. What a gift to see new forms of ministry emerging out of necessity. My plan is to send play, activity and faith prompts home every day. My goal is to encourage parents to let kids engage in rich, imaginative, open ended play. This link will take you to the Faith at Home Activity Guide I am updating throughout the week.
Play is important to children’s mental, physical and spiritual development. Here’s what I wrote about that in my ordination papers:
“Too often we have neglected the hands-on nature of faith. I believe that play, with opportunity for reflection, is an essential part of faith formation because it allows children to engage their imagination and their physical bodies to experience our living God directly. In addition to nurturing embodied, experiential understandings of God, play is essential for mental and physical growth.”
Turns out I’m kind of passionate about the connection between faith and play. This link will take you to several posts I have written on the topic. Monday’s here!. Let’s play!!!