Brett Connolly on What Family and Student Ministry Will Look Like This Fall

With uncertainty surrounding the upcoming fall semester, church leaders are navigating what it looks like to prioritize the safety of their students and families while also maintaining a highly effective ministry. They’re faced with unprecedented challenges and decisions throughout this process with social distancing mandates, so I brought together a panel of leaders to discuss what family and student ministry will look like this fall. The panel included:

Levi Yancy, Student Pastor, Grace Point Church

Justin Wilke, Kids Director, Grace Church Reno

Ben Windle, Life Strategist, Author, Pastor

Elle Campbell, Founder of Stuff You Can Use

Shifts & Trends In The Fall Ministry Calendar

  • Some leaders have taken a break in the summer and others have been holding worship events inside their buildings and meeting in smaller groups. It’s up to each church and ministry to consider what’s going to be best for their students and parents in this season.
  • Many ministries are incorporating pre-recordings, Zoom small group meetings, Zoom breakout sessions, etc. for the fall semester curriculum. One panelist mentioned creating small pre-recorded pieces of content or activity instructions that parents can use with students throughout the week. Rather than only having God based conversations on Sundays, student leaders are providing resources to equip parents to talk with their kids about the Bible on a daily basis.
  • To keep parents connected to church and each other, some churches are hosting a parents’ rest event where they can come to the church and watch a movie or just sit and talk. This creates a way to care for parents during COVID-19 who have been homeschooling and balancing work and parenting.
  • Significant events that are typically in-person in the fall may need to shift to being online fully or partially. Many leaders mentioned planning events like Netflix parties, Drive-up events, and Zoom scavenger hunts.

How to Serve Students Where They Are

Church leaders have found it helpful to serve students where they are and be even more intentional and creative in caring for them during a time when they are not able to meet in-person. With everything being moved online, it’s vital for student and family ministry leaders to acknowledge the fact that their students’ online viewing habits may have shifted because online materials and videos have become diluted over time. Also, Zoom fatigue is becoming more common as we spend more time on virtual events.