For many years Bethel EMC in New Dundee, Ontario has been welcoming kids aged Junior-Kindergarten to grade six from their congregation, local churches, and the neighbourhood to Kid’s Klub every Thursday night. About 45 kids meet as a group and in classes with two leaders each. Lively and boisterous, the fast-paced evenings are filled with music, memory work, crafts, Bible learning, snacks, prayer and sharing, and fun in the gym.
Then came March Break in 2020, the beginning of shutdowns. First, the planned and anticipated VBS had to be cancelled, and then the popular weekly program for kids ground to a halt. After a couple of months, it was apparent there wouldn’t be a return to the usual format any time soon. The three leaders got together with the pastors to re-dream next-gen ministry to this age group. There was some initial apprehension as they settled on switching to video. Learning to speak to a camera instead of the kids was new territory, but the transition went smoothly. They launched in October 2020 and produce a 20-35 minute video each week. Retooling continues, and Pastor Dan Hamill says, “they are getting more and more creative as they go.”
Everything they offered in-person before, except the gym portion, can be incorporated into the videos. Video segments are filmed in the church, in people’s homes and outdoors. Volunteers and teachers provide variety and visual interest as they give an object lesson or demonstrate a class from their kitchen or workshop, or while tramping through the woods. And of course, there are costumes too. They are thankful for Jacob, Dan’s son, who uses his Visual Arts skills to do all the video-editing. His contribution ensures that well-done videos go out into homes.
The new format requires careful advance planning and the leaders need to stay several steps ahead. For instance, once a month, volunteers pack and deliver boxes for each household. They contain all the supplies and other small items each child needs to participate in the activities appearing in an entire month’s videos. The videos premiere each Saturday and families can choose when to watch and take part. Each Thursday night, the two teachers of each class host a Zoom call. They talk about the video, but most of all, it’s an excellent opportunity to connect with the kids.
Feedback from the parents has been positive. And it encourages the leaders and teachers when parents send in photos of their kids doing the crafts and activities.
Leadership has been praying for several years about how to better minister to parents. Yes, the parents dropped their children off at the church and came to the classrooms to pick them up. At best, this provided a couple of minutes to talk, but it was a hectic few minutes.
Pastor Dan notes that these videos go right into the homes each week, making the good news available to all.
This article is featured in the Spring 2021 edition of The EMCC Together Newsletter.
Download a PDF copy of the newsletter and previous EMCC Together publications here.