Children’s Ministry looks different but has the same purpose
by Lauren Evans Hamilton
Director of Family Ministries
First Baptist Church, Clemson
Children’s ministry during the time of COVID19 has been different to say the least. While I miss precious in-person time with all the children of our church family, whom I dearly love, my hope and prayer is that we all have a better understanding now (as the hymn goes) that “The Church is not a building, the Church is not a steeple, the Church is not a resting place, the Church is the people”; even though the church building is a special place for us to gather together, God and the Church also exist outside the walls of the church building.
Together, we have been rediscovering these truths in both new and old ways. For the children of First Baptist Clemson, weekly children’s sermons (although recorded and posted online) and snail mail have made comebacks, while Zoom has become a new way for us to gather for Sunday School, Bible Study, and Mission Friends. As well, children, youth, and adults alike in our congregation have continued to be engaged by recording elements of worship from their own homes.
Special days, extra special activities
Special days on the church calendar have called for extra special activities and deliveries. For Holy Week, children received packages that included the book, Easter Love Letters From God by Glenys Nellist, with an accompanying devotional activity pack.
For Easter, our church family (together but separately) brought flowers to make a living flower cross. As well, the people of our church and community made and displayed eggs outside their homes so that our children and families could take a drive and have a socially distanced egg hunt—several families reported spotting over 200 eggs.
To celebrate Jesus’ Ascension, Becky DeWitt, our Preschool Director of Discipleship, and I took the church bus on an adventure around town to hand deliver bubbles and balloons to all of our children.
For Pentecost, children made their traditional tongues of fire hats at home and we threw a birthday party for the Church.
And even ordinary days are special
And, even on our more ordinary days, we have been surprised to learn about God through popped popcorn kernels, seemingly dead bulbs that come up from the ground and bloom into lovely flowers, outdoor scavenger hunts in God’s creation, a game of yard sign tag, adventures with Flat Jesus, and so much more.
Vacation Bible School
Looking ahead, I am excited about our week of JOY in July. Since we couldn’t have our usual in-person Vacation Bible School, we thought, “Why not replace it with a week of JOY?!” JOY stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself, and stems from Jesus’ command to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
For this meaningful and fun week, children (from home) will be invited to hear a Bible Story about Jesus every day, and respond with an act of service. Each day will have a different theme: Miraculous Monday, Teamwork Tuesday, Welcome Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Be a Friend Friday.
To give you a taste of our week of JOY: on Miraculous Monday, children will explore the story of how one boy shared his lunch to help Jesus feed 5,000 people, discovering that it doesn’t take a big act to make a difference. Children will then be invited to make muffins for a neighbor, grandparent, or friend who could use a little extra JOY.
On Thankful Thursday, the children will explore the story of Jesus healing ten men with leprosy, only having one return to show his gratitude. Following this story, children will be invited to draw a word or picture of thanks with chalk in the driveway of a healthcare or essential worker, or of anyone who has positively impacted their life.
God has not stopped moving
This pandemic time of isolating and distancing has not been easy, that’s for sure. But, life has not stopped going and God has not stopped moving. Amid this pandemic, we have welcomed three new babies to our church family and celebrated a child’s profession of faith.
All in all, I pray that these ways of ministering outside the box and outside the church are fruitful, that our children and their families feel spiritually connected and uplifted, and that we all know, without a doubt, that God is with us, that God can be found in unfamiliar places, and that God is always working to squeeze goodness even out of the most bleak situations.
Lauren Hamilton was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She graduated from Clemson University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education.
Lauren began serving at First Baptist Clemson in September of 2012, and she works most closely with the 1st-5th grade children and their families.
Lauren is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Gardner-Webb University’s School of Divinity, in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.
Lauren is married to Seth, a mechanical engineer, and together they have a dog named Grizwald.
In June, Lauren was named by CBF Global as one of 25 Young Leaders to Know.
Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.