Six months ago, I could count on one hand the number of churches that were providing online services for kids.
That changed when the pandemic came sweeping in. Thousands of churches or I might even venture out to say the majority of churches have started providing an online experience targeted for children.
A few days ago, I shared some examples of church's online service for kids.
Many of the online services for kids are great. They are interactive, engaging and capture the hearts of kids. My hat goes off to all the churches who see the value of creating online services for kids.
Some children's ministries are really going the second mile during this time. They are only providing an online kids service but also are providing video and print content that includes activities for kids at home, Bible memory videos for kids, fun online games and challenges that tie into the lesson and even parenting classes for parents.
Now this brings us to the big question...
Will you continue to provide online services for kids after the pandemic bans have been lifted?
Here are some questions to ask before you make your decision:
—Can we sustain this? Is this something we can do long term?
—Do we have the manpower to produce this every week and pull of regular worship services with excellence?
—Do we need to hire additional staff to make this happen each week?
—Are we violating any copyright issues? Are we using music, graphics and video content that require permission from the creator to use online?
—Will this become a substitute for kids coming to regular church services? Will kids and families begin worshipping together in their homes instead of at a church building?
—Will it capture kids' attention and make it worth their while to tune in? Online services that target Gen Z and Alpha generation kids will need to be interactive, fun and engaging.
I have talked to a few churches who have already decided to keep their online children's services after the pandemic ban has been lifted. Here are a few reasons why they are making this bold decision:
It's a new outreach for us. We can reach kids and families who don't know Jesus. One person shared with me a number of kids who had made a choice to begin following Jesus through the online services. These are kids who live far away from the said churches and were reached through the church's online services.
It can help us grow our church. The vast majority of people go online and check out a church's website page and examine the adult service, the kids service and other need-to-knows before coming to a physical church location. In many churches, the online service is the front door of the church.
It's the direction our culture is moving. We want to stay relevant for today's kids and families.
There is pushback from other people who will be stopping online services for kids once the ban is lifted. Here are a few reasons why:
—There is no substitute for a child having the personal opportunity to be prayed for, looked in the eyes and hear their name spoken.
—If we continue to do online services, we will need to hire more staff and fund it with our budget.
—We can't do online and in-person worship services for kids every week. This will impact the excellence factor, since we will be spread thinner and will have to scramble to come up with engaging content every week.
My biggest concern is this: Will it cause kids and their families to stay home more often and watch the services online? On a number of occasions, I have had parents tell me, "We were going to stay home today and watch online, but our daughter kept saying she wanted to attend in person. Her pester power finally persuaded us to show up in person, so here we are."
We know a huge factor in discipleship is relationships. Discipleship is done thorough relationship. These relationships are formed when people interact with others who are on the discipleship journey.
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Yes, kids can hear God's Word taught and shared online, but I believe it is still not the best way to see kids grow in their faith. Nothing can adequately be a substitute for personal, face-to-face ministry. Every child needs someone each week who looks in their eyes and says, "I'm so glad you are here. Jesus loves you so much. And so do we."
The Bible also tells us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). Some would argue that you can assemble anywhere in person or online. I believe the writer of Hebrews was referencing a physical gathering.
There are my thoughts on the matter, and I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. You can leave your insight in the comment section below, and I will read them and respond.
Should churches continue to provide online services for kids? Yes or no? Why or why not?
What do you think?
Dale Hudson is a ministry builder. As a children's pastor, he has helped build some of the largest and fastest-growing children's ministries in the country. At Cross Church, he led the children's ministry to double in size. At Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, he helped the church grow from 8,000 to 16,000 in four years, with the majority of the growth coming from reaching unchurched families.
For the original article, visit relevantchildrensministry.com.
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