There are a variety of reasons why families are often unable to attend church: sports, travel, illness, school related activities, and so much more. Often our communities have been affected by natural disasters: hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, or snow storms. These are usually isolated areas of our country depending on the circumstance. However, March 2020 (and most likely longer), communities across the United States (and world-wide) are living with a new reality of many houses of worship cancelling in-person services to protect the health of all.
It has been no surprise to me that Christian formation folks have been at the forefront in sharing resources and ideas for supporting households who are staying at home. Many ideas that have been shared are not new, but are coming to light as the need has arisen for so many. New collaborations are forming to determine new ways to use social media and virtual gatherings for worship, prayer, Bible study, and simply being present with one another as a faith community. With large thanks to Forma and my colleague Mary Hawes’ (Church of England) Growing For Growth, below is a curated list (which will be updated regularly – so you may want to bookmark this) of ways to help parents, children, and youth focus on the reality that God is with us – no matter what.
Worship at Home is a downloadable document by Mary Hawes that gives an overview on how to set up a family worship space as well as a prayer service and links to songs and music so you can worship together. She has also written experiential prayer activities to do with everyday objects that you have around the house.
Faith at Home is a weekly lectionary devotional / Bible study for families provided by Forma and Forward Movement. Its mission: Our faith is not just something we check in with on Sundays; our faith is how we live lives of meaning and purpose every day of the week, if we will learn to notice and respond to how God is moving. But this awareness, like anything worthwhile, takes practice. Which is why a weekly discipleship practice of Reading, Reflecting, and Responding to scripture in the context of community is so important. The devotions on this site have been written with this practice in mind. Use them with friends or family to help you deepen your experience of faith experience from Monday-Saturday.” Sign up to get it weekly via email or “like” it on Facebook. Update: It will now be available several times during the week also! Read the update here.
The FAITH5 from Faith Inkubators is a simple, easy-to-implement faith practice, perfect for incorporating into your bedtime routine for five to fifteen minutes a night. When done over time, the FAITH5™ carries the power to enrich communication, deepen understanding, aid sleep, and promote mental, physical, and spiritual health. The five steps are:
• SHARE your highs and lows
• READ a Bible verse or story
• TALK about how the Bible reading might relate to your highs and lows
• PRAY for one another’s highs and lows
• BLESS one another
We Wonder: Lent is a podcast from the Church of England, a contemplative Lenten devotional for children to wonder together about the story of God. Each episode features: a scripture passage brought to life with dynamic music and sound effects, a short, engaging reflection on the passage, a contemplative time for wondering together about the story for the day, and brief thoughts and prayer led by a special child-guest each day. There are currently 46 episodes.
Tucked In: Bedtime Stories and Prayers with Episcopalians and others is a Facebook Group that does live-streaming of different folks reading a picture book with faith themes. Each Wednesday evening (7:00pm ET) and occasional Mondays, you can join to hear Bible and other stories and short bedtime prayers.
Watch a Godly Play story! The Godly Play Foundation has a YouTube channel with numerous stories to watch being presented by a myriad of Godly Play trainers.
Be creative! While not specifically faith-based, there are plenty of online “places” to visit. You might want to wonder together, “Where do you see God?” as you look at a painting. Travel and Leisure magazine offers twelve famous museums that offer virtual tours you can take curled up on the sofa together.
And here are some articles for parents to help their children and teens during this time:
- From Building Faith: Coronavirus, Anxiety, Children, and the Church
- From Seattle Children’s Hospital: Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19
- From the New York Times: 5 Ways to Help Teens Manage Anxiety about the Coronavirus