family life groups in a unique time

we were giving the word that it was time to figure out a way to bring families safely back on campus. what would we do? 40% of our investors (volunteers) are 65 and up, several other teachers weren’t comfortable coming back yet, and we didn’t have enough space or volunteers to social distance kids in classrooms.

researching what other churches were doing and having a heart for family discipleship, our team decided a family life group model was best. what a great way to transition back to church with families seeking God’s truth together.

our family life group takes place in our gym and each family has an eight foot table that is socially distanced six feet from any other table. we take temperatures before families enter, have volunteers to check families in on ipads, and ask all attendees to wear masks. (we provide k95 masks and shields to volunteers.)

before we began we wanted to outline the elements of family life group and use those as a filter to plan each week. while these elements may happen in a different order each week, we make sure they are all included. (see below)

using our Gospel project curriculum, we now have four family worships under our belt and are learning ways to tweak and improve our time each week. below are some ideas/activities we have used for family life group.

early arrival activities – we have three. because the sanctuary has to be cleaned thoroughly between each service, we have families arriving 20-25 minutes before family life group begins. the early, early arrival activities have included making cards for our adult students at the learning center where they are working on completely their GED, writing notes of encouragement to church staff, play-doh creations, and decorating family place mats. for the early arrival time, one of our amazing interns leads the kids in socially distance minute-to-win-it types of games or competitions. we hope this time helps get some energy out before we begin life group. the warm up we begins right at start time (because you know people are still coming in) and it has included stand up/sit down questions for families, a play-doh creation contest, and more.

hear truth – each week we share God’s truth straight from our Gospel project curriculum. my associate and i found out early on it was too much for us to teach every other week and lead all the other activities, so we each teach only once a month. to carry the load with excellence we have enlisted other ministers and church members to teach. this provides various teaching styles, gender diversity, and a chance for families to hear some of the best teachers in the church.

discuss truth – have you ever sat in church and heard the pastor say something and wanted to call a time-out to discuss what they said? that is what this time is for families. we give them two to three questions (with scripture references) to discuss around their table.

experience truth – our goal here is to create activities that help experience something together that will possibly lead to more discussion at home during the week. each week is different as we try to keep in mind all different learning styles. for the lazarus was raised from the dead week – families got to wrap a member in toilet paper and then they busted out as we called out “lazarus come out.” families have studied various scriptures together and picked which one they wanted to remind each other of during the week. kids have also washed their parents feet as we studied the last supper.

memorize truth – we are working with families to memorize the Lord’s prayer. each week, our intern gets up and teachers a phrase of the passage with motions for the families. after we finish the Lord’s prayer we will be on to another passage.

understand truth – using the cornerstones resources from lifeway, our associate minister to children introduces a question and answer and then we upload a video explanation to the padlet page for families to watch together during the week.

pray truth – we are blessed with some amazing leaders for our children’s prayer ministry. we now have groups of children praying before and after the life group. the children are leading the way in prayer.

at this moment we aren’t sure how long our family life group model will last, but it has been a privilege to serve families during this unique time. of all the pictures i have taken over the last month, the one below is still my favorite. there is just something about multigenerational Bible study that will always be a passion of mine. to God be the glory!

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