On a regular day before the pandemic hit, communication with families was often through many different methods like quick texts, online messages, emails, or conversations on a Sunday morning. Communicating via the phone was less popular.
Since families are busy, I often couldn’t get through on the phone and I would have to leave a message to be answered at a later time. Catching each other over the phone was difficult and conversations could be faster through other methods.
When the pandemic hit, most of us resorted to our technologically advanced methods of communication and family support. I have watched the posts in a children’s pastor’s group and pastors across North America as they have shared their online curriculum, craft videos, live streaming, facebook parties, and online chat groups so that we would all have creative ideas to interact with families and kids.
Don’t get me wrong these are good ideas. Some have gone over well, some have not. However, many of these resources lack a personalized touch. It has been difficult to engage families in a time when we as parents have been overwhelmed with many resources from our children’s ministers, teachers, family, and friends. It has been difficult to sift through it all.
I admit, it was hard for me to join in with adding to the information overload. Yes, I have been posting children’s ministry resources in emails and on facebook to contribute to our weekend online experience, but there is one thing that I am doing which people haven’t been posting about, and that is connecting over the phone.
I wasn’t sure about it at first, since phone calls often did not work well in the past, but times have changed. This is the first time I can call families in the middle of the day and expect to talk to a person rather than leave a message on a machine. Nearly every family I have called answer the phone! Families are almost all available and they seem happy to have someone check in on them.
It has given us the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation which previously had been rare. Often we have been too busy to talk for long. Even when I catch someone on a Sunday morning, I have to confess that my conversations are short because I have many other things that I need to take care of. I know that I have missed many deeper conversations, but now we had so much time to talk.
I am able to check in and see how a family is doing, to hear if they are well or affected by the changes with self-isolation. We talk about what home schooling is like, what it’s like working at home with kids, what fears and concerns they have, and how they are counting their blessings. At the conclusion of our conversation we are often able to share a time of prayer together, too.
I’m sorry to say that I hadn’t connected with some of our families with this depth in the past, but I am glad that I am able to during this time. If you are a ministry leader to young families and have not used the phone a lot to connect in the past, I encourage you to give the phone a second thought and don’t forget the power of a call especially in a time like this.
Rev. Tina Rae serves at Westview Baptist Church in London, ON.