It is January again. It is time for New Year resolutions and meticulous planning. Or at least that is what we used to do. Way back in January 2020, none of us had any idea what the year held. As we begin 2021, how do we make plans for our children’s and student ministries?
- Calendar the best you can with the info you have now. It is tempting to make no plans because everything is so unknown. But God desires for His ministry to keep moving forward. I believe in planning optimistically, while being realistic as well. We are planning on normal summer activities resuming for our kids and students, but we are in a state with few restrictions. Maybe the wise thing for you is to plan for a modified version of “normal.”
- Remain fluid. As we all learned in 2020, just because something is on the calendar, doesn’t mean it is going to happen. Hold onto all plans lightly and perhaps have a “Plan B” in mind.
- Don’t procrastinate. Sometimes I find myself delaying making detailed plans because I’ve grown accustomed to cancelations and shutdowns. Be proactive, even when you aren’t entirely sure what is going to happen.
- Be positive. People are tired of all of this. People are very divided among a number of lines. As ministry leaders, one of the most impactful things we can do right now is to shine the light and hope of Jesus brightly. Yes, you may face discouragement too. But you must lead from a place of hope. God works all things for good, even pandemics and an upside down world.
- Don’t resume an event just because it has always been on the calendar. As you evaluate resuming ministries that you couldn’t do this past year, make sure you sincerely ask if they have to be done or do they have to be done the same way. If you have traditionally done a VBS that very few people come to, is there a better way to do it? If your student camp has become very expensive, this may be the time to search for an alternative.
- Communicate very clearly with your families. Let them know ASAP which dates to reserve on their calendars, but also be very clear that all plans will be dependent on the circumstances at the time. People are tired of hearing this kind of statement, but unfortunately it is our world right now.
- Be very familiar with cancellation and refund policies. Don’t book a camp or order a curriculum without fully understanding what will happen if circumstances change. Also, determine refund policies for money families may pay for camps, supplies, etc.
- Keep people connected. 2021 may have more seasons of shut down and online services. Make it one of your number one priorities to keep families connected to the church and to each other. Regularly send postcards and make phone calls. Build community through Facebook groups, Instagram, and group chats.
I am praying for a much less tumultuous year for all of our churches. Even more, I am praying for God to use all of these unusual circumstances to build His kingdom and draw people to Him. Leaders, I am cheering for you as you navigate another year of unknowns. God is bigger and His kids and teenagers still need Him! Let’s see what He does in 2021.