As she has connected with Dwell leaders across the continent over the past few months to discuss their plans for the coming year, one thing is sure: No two churches look the same right now, said Jill Benson, coordinator of Dwell, the CRCNA’s curriculum for teaching children about God’s Big Story of the good news of Jesus.
Each church, she added, is set in a different geographic area with different COVID-19 infection rates and guidelines to help people navigate through this time of pandemic.
And each church “is figuring out its own way to hold church and do children’s ministry in these unique circumstances,” said Benson.
As the Dwell team considered how to resource Dwell churches this fall, “it became very clear that we needed to help churches adapt to a variety of situations,” she said.
As a result, the team is currently working on the following projects that they hope will do just that:
Adapting Dwell to Fit Your New Children’s Ministry Needs
- Dwell Flex: simple, multi-age, multi-setting sessions. In early August, Faith Formation will release 36 simplified one-page Dwell session plans that require no materials and can easily be led online or in person with multi-age groups. Check out a sample here. These sessions include four simple steps—breathe, read and wonder, pray, and respond—providing a simple way for anyone to lead a Dwell session with little advanced preparation. These sessions will be released on Dwell Digital, which Christian Reformed churches can access free (paid for through ministry shares).
- A template to help you simplify and lead any Dwell session you wish. This free resource follows the same simple outline as Dwell’s 36 new simplified sessions and will help leaders adapt any other Dwell session to their particular situation.
Both of these resources will work in a variety of ministry settings: for online or parent-led Dwell sessions or a simplified in-person children’s ministry with kids from any age group. The template is available now, and the session plans will be available later this summer, so watch the Dwelling newsletter and Dwell Leaders Lounge Facebook group for release details.
Using Dwell Outside of Children’s Ministry
A few other things the Dwell team has created for churches not planning to run any programs for children outside of the worship service:
- Tips for using Dwell to lead a children’s message. Did you know Dwell stories make a really great children’s message? Use these Terrific Tips for Telling God's Story with Children during Online Worship to turn any Dwell session into a simple children’s message.
- Suggestions for family faith formation. Not planning any in-person or virtual children’s ministry this fall? Check out A Wonderful Way to Help Families Form Faith at Home This Fall for details on making your own Dwell at Home gift bags for families.
Stay Tuned for More
The Dwell team will be sending out a special “Fall Resources” issue of the Dwelling newsletter in early August that will highlight all of the new Dwell resources. You can sign up here to receive Dwelling in your email. Updates will also be posted in the Dwell Leaders Lounge Facebook group, so you are encouraged to join that group if you haven’t yet.
“Our hope and prayer is that these resources will bless your church this fall,” said Benson. “We know that this is a difficult season for church leaders — and especially for children’s ministry leaders — and we want to do all we can to help equip you to continue sharing God’s Big Story with the children at your church.