One of the many challenges that youth and children’s leaders have faced has been to develop creative solutions to how we can continue to maintain contact and build relationships with children during the restrictions. The summer holidays have traditionally been a fantastic opportunity for reaching out and sharing the Good News of Jesus with children through annual holiday clubs. Thrive’s Children’s Ministry Adviser, Fiona Stutton, tells us about how several churches engaged in taking these holiday clubs online this summer, and how surprisingly exciting it all was.
Jen Watson, youth & children’s worker at St Giles’ Church in Exhall, and Nicola Ugochukwu, children’s worker from All Saint’s Bedworth, had the idea of pulling resources together to run an online holiday club. Thrive’s Children’s Work Network met together and shared the idea. Churches across Coventry began to work together to produce both recordable and printable resources that were available online for churches to use. The theme was called ‘Adventures with God’ looking at five different stories from the Bible.
Churches that used the resources were able to run their holiday club in their own way, either on Facebook Live or Zoom, allowing them to lead their sessions and include the video clips of stories, talks, puppets, songs, prayers and craft accordingly. Working together not only took pressure off leaders as they tackled online holiday clubs for the first time, but was an encouraging sign of supporting each other across the city.
Thrive worked alongside the Offchurch Group of Churches as they planned their first holiday club online. Children were sent out packs in advance and had everything they needed inside. It was a great system and it worked well.
The children had emoji’s on lolly sticks and when asked questions, the children were all able to express (at the same time) how they were feeling and also how they felt characters from the Bible were feeling depending on the questions being asked.
Their youth group had previously met together outside (all socially distanced, of course!) to take part in freeze-frame photographs which were edited into Powerpoint and were used as backing pictures to the story. It was a lovely way to involve the young people. Overall the holiday club was a great success, the children absolutely loved it and it has encouraged the leaders in starting up their Messy Church online in the autumn to reach out to more families.
After the online holiday club had finished, we received a very encouraging email from Hazel Taylor, the organiser of the club:
‘We are so grateful for Fiona’s involvement and guidance, which have enabled us to run a successful Holiday Club over 3 mornings this last week of August 2020 on ZOOM.
We aimed at 5 – 8 year olds and had 10 children attend. We would not have attempted this venture without Fiona’s help and encouragement. Putting herself available to listen in to our many Zoom meetings as we were using untried technology; her input, advice and ideas have been so valuable. It really felt that the Holy Spirit was with us all the way.
We really feel that Fiona has always had the spiritual guidance of our children to the fore in everything she has done with us. She has given us the confidence to do things as leaders, we did not think possible.
Her work has really helped us with our children’s ministry, which we find is not easy in our rural setting.
Many thanks, Fiona, for everything.’