Just as COVID-19 has changed church ministries and patterns during the Spring of 2020, churches are now facing how the pandemic is changing ministry this summer. In fact, the pandemic has significantly altered or eliminated ministries foundational to Arkansas Baptist churches for generations such as camps, VBS, and student mission trips.
The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) is creating an emphasis to help churches focus on ways to capture the summer despite the changes that have occurred. “Summer 2020: A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity” is being launched this week to encourage and equip churches to view this summer as an opportunity to find new ways to engage children, students, and families.
“Summer has always been a time when Arkansas Baptist churches focused on the next generation. Summer has always been filled with events and programs designed to reach and impact children and students – camps, mission trips, and all kinds of other events,” says Dr. J. D. “Sonny” Tucker, Executive Director of the ABSC. As health concerns have reduced most church functions down to online worship services or limited in-person Sunday morning services, churches face a dilemma in losing this important time of focus on children and students. Dr. Tucker describes the danger, saying “there will be a disastrous spiritual impact on our young people if we do not plan ministry for them during this summer. We must not fail to find ways to creatively engage and connect with students and children.”
“Summer 2020: A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity” presents two areas of emphasis for churches. First, churches are encouraged to create large group events for both children and students in large spaces that can accommodate proper social distancing and safety issues. There are lots of events that can be planned to engage various age groups without creating safety hazards. Resources are being provided at absc.org/summer with examples of events for every age group. These resources also provide preparation checklists and other information to help churches develop group events.
The second area of focus for the Summer 2020 emphasis encourages pastors and church leaders to prioritize helping parents to engage spiritually with their children. Because of the significant reduction in activities due to the pandemic, parents will undoubtedly have more time with their children this summer than any time in recent memory. This creates the “opportunity of a lifetime.” Pastors and church leaders are encouraged to equip parents to make the most of this extra time with their kids.
Parents are encouraged to engage their children in three specific areas. First, use the extra time to create family experiences your children will remember. “Making memories” will help you focus on spending meaningful time together as a family. Next, parents are encouraged to teach basic spiritual disciplines in their family routines by finding creative ways to pray together and read the Bible together. Finally, parents are encouraged to engage in meaningful life conversations with their children. There are certain discussions that every child and student should have with their parents. Parents are encouraged to talk with their kids about their value, their future, and their safety. Finally, parents are encouraged to find a time to specifically share their salvation story with their family.
Churches should not lose the Summer of 2020. While there are challenges, the situation of this summer has truly created the “opportunity of a lifetime” to impact families both in our church and those who need to learn that Jesus has a plan for their children and their families. Resources are available to help pastors and church leaders seize this opportunity at absc.org/summer.