While the students in our congregations have enjoyed a good LONG break from school, most are anxious to return back. All over the country, school districts are doing the difficult work of planning and preparing for reopening schools.
As much as we all long for “normal”, the fall is not going to look like it once did. Each district seems to have a different plan…virtual, hybrid, A/B, in-person. Plans also remain quite fluid as each state experiences a varied level of spread.
This leaves parents facing some challenging decisions for the fall. Most districts are giving parents a choice of starting the school year virtually or some form of hybrid, in-person attendance. Each family is evaluating their circumstances and struggling with what is best for not only their child but their family for this school year.
As families decide what to do, they need support and encouragement. How can your church come alongside families to provide this support?
For parents that choose to have their students learn virtually, they will be balancing a parenting and teaching role. Many may also be working from home as well. This can lead to stress and frustration. Could your church create a Help Hotline for these families? Do you have retired school teachers or professionals that might be willing to take phone calls and field questions from parents looking for some extra help and support with certain topics?
There are so many uncertainties right now – most people are dealing with unusually high anxiety. This would be a great opportunity to have an online platform or a phone line available to people that could use prayer or a safe space to talk. If you have staff members or trained volunteers that are part of your Care Team, they could man this phone line or respond to these online conversations. What a blessing to have a safe place to share these struggles and receive Biblical advice and encouragement!
Some other creative, but tangible ways your congregation could pour into families in your community:
- Host a drive-in movie theater night in your church parking lot.
- Rent a large projector and screen and show a popular family-friendly movie. Offer free popcorn or other snacks. Families can park in their cars or bring chairs and blankets to social distance but still enjoy a family outing together. Families are hungry for creative and safe opportunities to get out of the house, see friends from a safe distance, and have some fun together.
- Offer a free pick-up meal for families.
- Have them sign up online so you can prepare adequately but have an organized drive-thru and provide families with a quick and easy dinner to make life easier one night of the week. It could be 2 pizzas, soda and cookies or a basket of chicken tenders, french fries, and sweet tea! Parents will be extremely thankful to not have to cook dinner and kids will love the treat!
- Create a list of teenagers in your church that are doing virtual learning.
- They may be available to help working parents that are seeking safe, reliable childcare. Many working parents are desperate for some help with virtual learning.
These are great opportunities to share information and resources with families. You can hand out fun, family devotional activities. Make sure you invite families to attend your church service, whether you are meeting in-person or online. We are all navigating uncharted waters in this unprecedented time. Coming alongside families in tangible ways is a beautiful way to be the hands and feet of Christ. We are all looking for support and encouragement because none of us know what is ahead. Take this opportunity to minister to your families in an impactful way.