Is Online Church Enough for Kids?

When the pandemic entered our world, it caused major interruptions and changes to how we do children's ministry.  

A large percentage of churches took their children's ministry classes, services and events online.  And in many cases, they didn't have a choice since the adult services were meeting online as well.  

I'm thankful for the many, many hours children's ministry leaders have been putting into their online content.  It has removed the 4 walls of the church and made the content available for the entire world.

I've talked with many churches who say they are going to continue offering online services for kids even when the pandemic has subsided.  That will be a noble undertaking for sure.  

But before we decide to keep providing kids' content online, I believe there are some questions we must ask ourselves. 

1. Is it sustainable?  Do we have the ability and resources to continue doing this long term?  

2. How can we get an accurate picture of how many are engaging with our content? 

3. Is online the best tool for kids to grow spiritually?  

4. Are we okay with families attending online instead of in-person?  What are the pros and cons of both?

5. What affect or changes will it have on our overall children's ministry?

Personally, I believe there is no substitute for in-person children's ministry.  There's a reason why the Bible says this in Hebrews 10:25.   

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."

And then there is this verse found in 1 Thessalonians.  

"But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face."

I believe kids need in-person classes, small groups and services.  I believe churches should go back to offering this as soon as it is safe and doable.  Notice again what it says in Hebrews.

 "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."

1. In-person services, events and small groups are the best way to see kids grow spiritually.  Kids need to hear a dedicated leader say their name and personally interact with them each week through questions and statements.

2. Relationships are formed and built when kids and leaders connect face-to-face.  Yes, parents are the biggest influence in a child's life.  But I have also found that God will send along another person who backs up what you are saying and helps you influence your children to the right way.

3. Discipleship happens through relationship.  Kids grow faster when they have someone teaching them and investing in them in-person.

4. Ministerial care best happens face-to-face.  Kids and families can be encouraged and prayed for by name and be seen face-to-face as Paul reminds us.  

5. When you meet face-to-face, there are people who can hold you accountable. People who can challenge you.  People who teach you and help you apply God's Word to your life.  People who will call you out when you begin drifting.

Should we stop offering online services and groups for kids?  I'm not saying that.  I do believe it is a great tool that God can and is using in the lives of so many kids and families. 

I don't believe it is an either or.  I believe both are great tools God has given us to reach and disciple kids and families.  

That being said, I do believe the in-person model is what our main focus should be.  How long will it take us to immerse ourselves back into this model?  I'm not sure.  But I do know we were made for internal fellowship.  

Can you do both online and in-person services long-term?  Maybe, but if it comes down to a choice, I would choose in-person every time.

Your turn. Would love to hear what you have to say about this? 

Are you still volunteering in children's ministry during the pandemic?  

Do you feel safe and protected when you serve?  

Do you believe kids and families should attend in person?  What are the pros and cons of this?

Share your thoughts, experiences and findings in the comment section below.