COVID-19 Children's Resources
By Kevin Johnson
Each day, as news about the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across this nation, families are recognizing a new daily lifestyle filled with anxiety, fear, social distancing, and home quarantine. Schools are closed; children certainly have seen the news and are asking questions regarding the Coronavirus. Parents are learning how to work from home. Churches are worshiping online. All are having to be creative in moving forward during the next coming weeks and months. Church leaders and parents are asking for online resources to provide to their children. While it seems that life as we knew it is out of control, this is also an excellent time to be creative in faith formation. Parents now have the opportunity to mentor their children and model faith formation in the home. Remaining true to our United Methodist heritage, Discipleship Ministries has provided a compilation of resources for children’s ministry leaders and the families you serve.
Remember, when talking to your children to:
- Empower them to be helpers in fighting this disease. Encourage them to wash their hands and not touch their faces; both actions help decrease the spread of the virus.
- Truly listen and hear children’s concerns. Let them know that you are listening to them when they voice their feelings of fear and anxiety. Keep lines of communication open.
- Model faith formation in everything you do. Include children in every conversation. Don’t become the expert with all the answers. Admit when you don’t have an answer; pursue an answer together.
- Put God first and others second. Take this time to teach your children compassion for others. Pray for others. Model putting others’ needs before yours.
Here are some websites that offer online resources and will help you through this difficult season of life. Click the links to explore more.
Melinda Shunk is the Arkansas UMC Conference Children’s Ministry Coordinator. The Children’s Ministry has a Facebook page that provides resources and vital keys of communication. The posts from the Facebook page also can be found on the Arkansas UMC Conference website.
Cokesbury Kids is a new site created solely to provide children’s resources. This site provides curriculum, but also articles and resources to provide leaders, caregivers, and children a wealth of useful information. Cokesbury is the retail division of the United Methodist Publishing House.
Rev. Dr. Leanne Hadley has a wealth of experience in children’s spirituality. Leanne currently serves a United Methodist church in the Kentucky Conference. Through listening to and learning from children and teens over the course of twenty-five years, Rev. Leanne has developed amazingly effective resources to strengthen congregations (and the families in them) by helping them understand the spiritual lives of children and deepen and expand the ministries they offer to children and families.
Rev. Christine Hides serves in the Northern Illinois United Methodist Church Conference. Her website provides engaging faith-forming experiences, community art projects, and other inspiring thoughts on Christian Faith Formation.
Slugs & Bugs creates music and stories full of faith and silliness for the whole family to delight in and sing for years to come. Randall Goodgame began with the premise that songs are one of God’s powerful tools for building strong relationships. Since beginning with music, Slugs & Bugs has grown to now provide books and video episodes that create familial conversation about a deeper understanding of people’s relationship with Jesus. The above link provides free songs and episodes of the DVD series.
Rev. Dr. Tanya Campen serves in the Rio Texas Conference as Director of Intergenerational Discipleship. Dr. Campen has twenty years’ experience as a Christian educator, youth director, and minister to children and families in the local church. She has taught courses, webinars, and workshops for ministry leaders in Christian education, faith formation, intergenerational ministries, children’s spirituality, and youth faith development. She truly believes that God is actively present in the lives of all people, and she enjoys discovering God in every life moment.
Illustrated Ministry creates accessible faith-based resources for the church and home. This website is providing free resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RightNowMedia is a subscription based online video streaming service that provides churches (and families) with on-demand biblical content that includes curriculum, small-group studies, and children’s resources. During this time of global concern, RightNowMedia is offering certain resources free of charge.
The Fred Rogers Center, established in 2003 to carry forward Fred Rogers’ important legacy, is the official home of the Fred Rogers Archive. The center serves as a straightforward, understanding, and compassionate voice for the healthy development of children. Resources are provided through blogs and emails to families.
Rev. Kathy Pittenger serves the Michigan Conference of the UMC as the Children’s Initiatives Coordinator. She understands her role as one who encourages, empowers, equips, educates, walks with, and provides resources for leaders, churches, and families.
Vibrant Faith’s mission is to provide transformative Christian formation for families, faith communities, and people of all ages. This site provides resources such as coaching and training for ecumenical Christian leaders. The feed link offers thirty-five resources for children and families to use at home.
Messy Church USA is a new, creative way of being church for all-ages to join in experiencing fun and faith formative activities. It is based on the values of all-ages together, celebration, creativity, hospitality, and centering in Christ. The website has updates and resources on how this global movement is responding to COVID-19 moving forward.
- A Q&A with Lucy Moore
- #Messy Neighbours
- Family Prayer Time Idea - Sharing
- Family Prayer Time Idea – Breaking Bread
- Ideas via Facebook live gathering and Facebook page
(The above links are all links to Messy Church resources regarding COVID-19.)
Wade Rowatt is a Kentucky-licensed pastoral counselor and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Certified Educator for Saint Matthews Pastoral Counseling Center in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a Ph.D. in psychology of religion and is a retired professor at the University of Louisville Medical School’s Department of Psychiatric and author of Adolescents in Crises. Wade studied under and was a colleague of Dr. Wayne Oates, one of the founding fathers of pastoral care and counseling.
The Go Fish Guys have been providing an alternative approach to children’s Christian music for more than twenty years. This website is designed mainly for Children’s leaders, but it also provides music (that you won’t get tired of hearing) and a podcast.
Phil Vischer is the founder of both VeggieTales and the excellent Bible teaching series “What’s in the Bible?” This website provides information about both resources, as well access to podcasts and YouTube videos.
Amplify Media is a streaming service recently launched by The United Methodist Publishing House that gives churches unlimited streaming video access to discover, customize, and share thousands of diverse resources from a Wesleyan perspective that encourage deeper discipleship and equip churches to pursue their mission with greater impact. The video library includes hours of children’s programming from Deep Blue Kids, Cokesbury and Abingdon VBS, Sparkhouse, and more.
Amplify Media is currently offering everyone a 14-day free trial, as well as many free resources. Churches can also use the platform to stream worship services; and there is programming 24/7 on the site that features children’s programming for three to four hours every morning. Both church and individual subscriptions are available.
United Methodist Camping and Retreat Ministries has created a virtual day camp opportunity during this difficult time in our world. Each day, campers can log in and follow a day camp session, exploring topics such as Spiritual Development, Nature Exploration, STEM, Music, Art, Social/Emotional Learning, Exercise, and more. Camp Without Boundaries, a virtual day camp, is a free gift from the UMCRM community. Discipleship Ministries would like to share this creative camping experience with you and the campers in your home.
Additional sites with resources and communication ideas about Coronavirus/COVID-19, children, and church:
Rev. Kevin Johnson is the Director, Children’s Ministries for Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship at Discipleship Ministries. Kevin’s hero Fred Rogers suggests that we, “listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.” This quote defines Rev. Kev’s approach to ministry. Kevin, an ordained elder of the Kentucky Annual Conference, has over fifteen years of ministry experience in which he has thought of the children first. Prior to ministry, Kevin worked with children in the hospital setting and in group homes for emotionally and physically abused children.