Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Caring for Families and Children in Lockdown with John Stevens, Kathryn Jackson, Pete Woodcock and Dean Dryden.
1. As we journey from exile into the presence of God, we can be reassured that God will bring His people safely to His intended destination because His help ensures that we are not destroyed by our enemies. We are assailed by our enemies; Satan rages against God’s church plus cultural enemies that want to ban us, marginalise us, and stamp us out, but we will not be destroyed because God is our help and He is on our side.
2. As we look back to the past and praise God for what He has done, it gives us confidence that God will help us in the present. God is today our help. He is the sovereign Creator who has entered into a covenant with His people, and if He is for us, who can be against us.
3. There is not a silver bullet with working with families at the moment. Scale of strain on families is huge and we cannot solve these problems.
4. This lockdown is different to the first one. In the first lockdown there was enthusiasm. This lockdown people are finding it exhausting, relentless, isolating, tense, emotionally fraught, tedious, monotonous. Parents are just tired.
5. It is safe to make the assumption that parents are tired. Beyond that don’t make to many more assumptions with every family different. Their experience will be unique based on a combination of factors: are kids in school because they are key workers, age of children and how independent they are, pressure of job or whether they’ve been made redundant, do children have special needs, size of home, financial position, children’s personality types, and so on. There is no universality of experience.
6. There could be a good legacy to this with our children but most parents are not in a place right now to see this.
7. As ministers we are to show empathy but also to encourage and lead them in this situation by giving them a bigger vision and remind them what God is doing.
8. Nine principles
– Keep your head – keep going, keep believing in the Word of God.
– Lead with confidence in God – God know these times.
– Obey the law – and go to the limit of the law.
– What can we do attitude rather than what we can’t do – what can we do in this situation that is going to help our people.
– Do loads of things if you can.
– Teach people to take their eyes off themselves and look at other people.
– Don’t be on your own – try to team up with others somehow.
– Try to have a laugh.
– Remember the church is not just made up of families – church is family and don’t forget the older people or single people.
Plus a tenth – pray!
9. Have confidence that though Sunday meetings at the moment are hard for families they are also good for families. Encourage families to keep prioritising Sundays as a day of rest and worship.
10. Be a listening ear to parents. Bless children by being a listening ear to their parents. Model to them turning to the Lord in their struggles by praying with them.
11. If you’ve still go energy after this, a few ideas:
– Get families to think outside of their own situation – do challenges to raise money to support the persecuted church and encourage them to think about and pray for the persecuted church.
– Gather if/when you can.
– Can you run COVID-secure versions of events that would normally be in your calendar.
– Acts of kindness month – encourage every member of the congregation to do an act of kindness for another member. Meet on Zoom to listen to stories of kindness from the Bible and pray.
– Get families involved in the Sunday service. Get them in front of the camera and tell you how they are getting on.
– Send cards to them that go through letter box with stamps on them.
12, At the moment don’t presume a book will be a blessing to parents/families right now. Might be better to recommend a podcast like Faith in Kids, Everyday Dadding, or Popcorn Parenting.