Children & Youth Resources for Formation and Community
Living Into Our Baptismal Covenant by Social Distancing
A really good and simple way to teach kids about the importance of social distancing and staying at home is to tie it back to their baptismal covenant. This approach would work if the child has been baptized or is learning about it for a future baptism. One thing we are finding ourselves telling adults in this time of social distancing and separation is that we are staying home because we, as the church, have a different set of values. We are doing our part to keep others safe, thinking of our vulnerable community first, and respecting the dignity of every human being. This concept is not too much for the youngest amongst us. It seems only fitting, that we explain that same message to our littles, to help them see that, in the words of Bishop Kym, we “stay at home to love and serve the Lord!”
- Start by reading the book Today is Baptism Day. This is a beautiful and simply way of explaining baptism and the covenant we as Christians live into.
- Let this lead you into some natural conversation with your child. Present a non-anxious tone and let your child know it’s okay to ask questions and to not know the answer. Let them know that we are figuring this out together and that God is with us in this process. Make sure they know that they are loved and safe at home, and most importantly, this will not last forever. Below are some questions to help guide your conversation.
- What was your favorite part of this book?
- Have you ever seen someone be baptized? How did it make you feel?
- When you were baptized, I felt ________. (share their story of baptism)
- When you were (or will be) baptized we made promises to God for you. We promised to respect every living being. I wonder what that means to you?
- How can staying at home be a sign of that respect?
- What does it mean to look for the holy is someone?
- How can we serve others during this time apart? (Wear a mask, give each other distance when outside, wash your hands…)
- When you were (will be) baptized, you became a part of an even bigger family! How can you stay connected to that family even when we can’t be in the same room together? (write notes, zoom calls, phone calls, pray for each other…)
- Close your time together with a prayer. Pray for those working to fight the virus, those guiding us, for loved ones near and far, for the Earth, and for strength, courage, and compassion to stay home as a sign of love for one another.
- Learning with Millie and Suzie. A book written by medical students from Southern California. It helps explain the virus and social distancing really well.
- #KidsTogether: A Nickelodean Town Hall. Nickelodeon hosted a town hall with a gathering of doctors and celebrities so kids could ask questions about the coronavirus. It’s entertaining and informative.
- 15 Coping Strategies for Kids. This is a great site about coping with stress for kids and families.
- Coronavirus, Anxiety, Children, and the Church. This site does a good job teaching how to talk with kids about the coronavirus. It is sound advice, but keep in mind, some if it is already outdated as we are not meeting in churches or having Eucharist
During this time of more home-based activities, stay in touch with families with children and encourage them to go deeper in their faith together.
- Household Bible Reading with Lectio Divina introduces families and small groups to the practice of studying the Bible using Lectio Divina. “Sometimes the Bible can be confusing and difficult to understand. With Lectio Divina we give ourselves permission to let the Bible be what it is. Questions will undoubtedly surface. If you like, search for the answers. Seek out conversations. Or simply let the questions be.”
- Blessing Children in the Home is a simple practice for reminding children how loved they are.
- The New Zealand Prayer Book Compline is well worth exploring, offering a peaceful prayer service for end of day with the family or with others online.
- Grow Christians from Forward Movement is a great website to find inspiration for faith at home, describing itself as “striving to create an online community of discipleship focused on the practical details of life at home.” It includes reflections, stories, images, and recipes from diverse Episcopalians, celebrating the presence of God throughout the Christian year.
- Illustratedministry.com is offering free coloring pages during this time.
- Faith at Home is an offering of the Episcopal Church that provides a lot of resources including Lesson Plans that Work, the Book of Common Prayer in an easy-to-navigate PDF, and more.
- Faith Formation has an Instagram account for youth and youth leaders to connect, engage, and inspire that can be followed @young.faith.moves.mountains.
Use these tips for online youth group during this time of social distancing:
- Invest in Zoom. For the average youth group, Zoom accounts will range from free to $15.00 a month (depending on your length of meeting and participant needs). Meetings can be accessed easily on a laptop or a phone by clicking a link. Learn more at >
- Can’t do your normal lessons? Consider using the Work of the People. This site is full of videos that can be viewed together (the leader can easily share their screen so everyone views at the same speed). Most series come with a downloadable guide. Subscriptions are $7 a month for personal use and $25 a month for groups. Learn more >
- Still at a loss for what to do? Try Compline and let the youth take turns leading it.
- Keep it fun! Have your youth join the video meeting with their favorite beverage in hand, ask the youth to show up in their (appropriate) pjs for a lock-in feel, play show-and-tell with one unexpected thing from their room…Ideas like these will help you feel like you are together and will help you continue to build community.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Silence on video calls is especially awkward; it can feel even longer than face-to-face silence. It’s okay. Hold the space for people to think before responding just as you would with face-to-face meetings.
- Having a hard time hearing everyone? Remind your group to mute themselves when they aren’t speaking. This will get rid of background noise that may be distracting and household conversations that your family may not want overheard.
- Have meetings just to check in. Have meetings to talk about how the group is feeling as they process the reality we find ourselves in. Have meetings. The worst thing you can do is not meet at all. You want to make sure your group knows that they are cared for. Keep your community strong, check in with each other, support each other the best way you can. Online faith formation may feel clunky at first, but will help keep your group together and remind youth of how important they are.