As I talk with church leaders around the country, it is clear that the majority have reopened groups along with in-person worship. But reopening groups has not come without its challenges. The most daunting challenges are actually not being faced in adult groups, but rather in children and preschool groups.
A percentage of leaders who formerly led Bible study groups for kids have not returned yet, and it remains to be seen how many will come back and resume their teaching responsibilities. This creates a hardship on a church’s ministry to kids and their parents. Groups with younger adult members rely on their church’s children’s ministry to provide groups for their kids so that parents can participate in their adult groups.
Adult groups and group leaders can help their churches provide quality Bible study for kids, and at the same time make is possible for the parents of those kids to participate in their groups, by doing the following:
- Pray for workers to return. Adult groups can be part of the recovery of Bible teaching in their churches by praying for group leaders to return to their pre-COVID kids’ ministry positions of leadership. Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray when their was a shortage of workers to go out into the harvest (Matthew 9:38). The word pray used in that context has a special meaning in the original language. In Greek, it is the word deomai, and it means to beg because of a lack or need. Adult groups can pray, begging the Lord to send out workers into their church’s groups for children.
- Adult group members can serve. Sometimes the answer to a prayer is you! As you pray for your church’s children’s ministry to have enough workers, perhaps this is the right time for you to step up and step out of your church’s ministry to kids. If you are an adult group leader, encourage your group members to see the need, and to fill the need. Hold onto group members with a loose grip, and remember that adult Bible study groups should be clearing houses, not storehouses, of people.
- Adult groups can adopt kids’ groups. Adult groups can also adopt a specific preschool or kids’ group, and work with the church’s kids’ ministry leader to fill gaps in leadership until permanent workers are placed into those important teaching roles. Who knows? Some of the people who rotate and serve as volunteer group leaders may end up being called by God to lead that group of children! I prefer to have the same workers in the kids’ rooms each week for a number of reasons, but while the church is reopening groups, this solution, albeit imperfect, may give kids’ ministry leaders the time they need to recruit and train new leaders.
The relaunching, rebuilding, and the returning of Bible study groups is a tremendous blessing to churches. Throughout the pandemic we have prayed for this moment, the time when we could regather and be together again in worship and Bible study. Let’s make sure that we provide great groups for our littlest ones, the very ones that Jesus encouraged to come to Him.