One of the more difficult tasks children’s ministry leaders may have as 2020 comes to a close is planning for 2021.
So many of our plans vanished in the blink of an eye in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions. Events such as Easter egg hunts, Vacation Bible School (VBS) and fall festivals, as well as weekly group meetings, all disappeared. And we really don’t know what 2021 will offer for robust in-person meetings and events.
So how do we plan knowing that all of our efforts could disappear in an instant? Here are six considerations to keep in mind.
- Plan ‘loosely’
First of all, we have to plan “loosely.” In 1981, the rock band .38 Special had a hit song titled, “Hold on Loosely.” The opening lyrics go, “You see it all around you//Good lovin’ gone bad.” If we were to write a parody of the song in 2020, the second line might read, “Good plannin’ gone bad.” We have to plan for 2021 as if our plans may “go bad.” Plan B and even plan C have to be on paper in case our plan A becomes impossible to do.
- Plan purposefully
We also have to reconnect with our “why” and plan with what is most effective in answering that important question. Having a multitude of scheduled activities as in the past will overwhelm our parents and volunteers in 2021. Our planning must reflect our vision and mission in a more focused way since we may have fewer opportunities for interacting with children and families. Make sure to get the “most bang for the buck” in whatever you plan.
- Plan inter-generationally
If our opportunities for in-person ministry are reduced, how can we make each meeting have the most value? Our ministry teams may need to include planning for families and more inclusive groups. Can we offer a family VBS, picnics at the park with planned games and activities, and inter-generational family worship?
- Plan personally
Many training events and conferences are now online. No longer do you have the prohibitive cost of travel and hotels in order to take part in great training. Find a conference and intentionally schedule time on your calendar to take part. Consider sharing short times of online training with your volunteers, remembering your volunteers’ personal schedules. This is a great time to ramp up your skills in preparation for what the new year will bring. Ministry trainings like the upcoming “TELL 2021” virtual event offer great equipping for your team.
- Plan for community and fellowship
Leaders who have stayed connected in meaningful ways with their volunteers in 2020 are the ones who are having an easier time recruiting those same leaders for 2021. As you build community in your church, share your vision for children’s ministry in 2021. Emphasize the vision more than just the immediate need.
- Plan ‘old-school’
Remote learning and Zoom fatigue have damaged attempts to connect with children and families through the internet. Consider connecting with families who do not return to your church for Sunday services through phone messages, porch packages and “snail mail.” Don’t give up your communication efforts until asked to stop by the parents.
Planning may look and sound different in 2021 but is critical for effective ministry. Don’t assume the need for planning doesn’t exist in this season. In all honesty, it has never been more important as a reflection of your leadership and vision for the future of your church. Plan well and with hope for the future. It’s worth it!