Dear Youth and Children Leaders – You may not like this.
Dear Solo and Senior Pastors – You may not like this either.
The puzzle piece that was often missing in our pre-COVID 19 churches is the same piece that continues to be missing in conversations about virtual church; Intentional intergenerational interactions.
As your leaders prepare for “Virtual Summer,” Ministries Across Generations is here to be your research assistants so that you can be actively involved in the relationships and realities of your ministry context.
We all have learned that no one wants to sit on a virtual meeting all day (duh). We do, however, want God to be an active participant in our daily lives. Thus, this summer is an amazing opportunity for all ages to use technology as a tool to engage in daily faith. Our present moment of chaos has given us the gift of re-imagining ministry outside the traditional walls.
Many of our structures have been siloed by age for so long, that as we go into virtual summer, we keep forgetting that the “camp counselor, VBS teacher, mission trip leader, Sunday school teacher, and primary faith formation person” is a person who often feels very unequipped to be any of those things. If children and youth are relying on camp counselors and VBS leaders for their faith development, who will be reiterating, reflecting, and guiding the faith-based interactions, activities, and discussions when they are outside enjoying the green grass and sunshine?
What does using technology as a tool to engage in daily faith look like? The primary way for any of the virtual experiences to work is to make sure that our church leaders are effectively “training” the adults in our households. That means that the people on the screen with those who “only work with youth and/or children” should intentionally include adults. It means those who “only work with adults” need to start actively engaging in what is happening with the youth and children. It means we must get out of our siloed ministries. If we do not, we have missed a unique opportunity and continued one of the greatest weaknesses of traditional church programming. This is the opportunity to bridge faithful relationships that have been broken for a very long time.
If the response is that “We can do it all online,” then the reality is that our faith that was once trapped in a building is now trapped on a virtual world that does not connect with day to day realities.
So how do you best train your adults so that your virtual work has more power beyond the screen? The vision for Ministries Across Generations says,
Our vision is to encourage cross generational and multi-cultural relationships that support vital, dynamic ministries that enhance the faith of all God’s children.
As you put together your virtual pieces, how are you equipping the family unit in engaging in these sacred steps outside of the screen? Keep it that simple. Use some of your screen time to teach the family unit how to make daily life sacred alongside the resources, conversations, and insights from whatever form your virtual summer is taking.
If you want more resources to think through this process, here are some links to get you started. If you have any questions or need more direction, Ministries Across Generations is a team of people ready to respond with you virtually and prayerfully.
Day to Day Resources: https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/untitled-cdwm
Virtual Summer Updates: docfamiliesandchildren.org
Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She attended seminary at Lexington Theological Seminary and completed her doctoral work at Claremont School of Theology with an emphasis in preaching. She has worked with kids, youth, and young adults at various stages of her ministry, and has a deep passion for biblical education for all ages as a foundation for deeper spiritual growth.