Dear Families -

We hope that you have heard by now that tomorrow, our Atonement family will NOT be meeting in person for worship. Instead, to protect the public’s health and love our neighbors well, we invite you to join us for virtual worship at our regular worship times, 8:45 and 10:10 am.

While that sounds nice, as the parent of two young children, I recognize how daunting that might actually feel to you. With that in mind, I wanted to give you 11 tips for live-streaming worship with your kids.

1.      Make church an unusual, but fun event. Consider watching church together in your pajamas. Or eating breakfast as you watch.   

2.      Give your kids (and yourself!) permission to worship freely during the music. If your family isn’t used to singing together on a regular basis, it’s going to feel AWKWARD to suddenly force everyone to sing together during live-streamed music. So, make it OK to simply sit and listen to the music; Or to dance to the music; Or perhaps copy the lyrics down or illustrate them.

3.      Look up the day’s scripture reading. While Scripture is being read, have your child look up the passage in THEIR Bible and read along. After worship, compare: What was similar and different between what they heard and what they read?

4.      Add your own prayers to the day’s prayers. Even if we don't give you enough time to pray silently during the prayers themselves, take time to pray together as a family after the service ends.

5.       During the offering, talk about your family’s giving practices. What does it mean for your family to be generous – especially during these uncertain times? Talk about why Atonement still needs your offerings – perhaps now more than ever. Then, together, as a family text a contribution to Atonement ( text 'atonement909' to 73256) and wrestle with one other tangible thing you can during the week to give generously to someone around you. If your family is collecting change for Holy Family with our Sunday School kids, have your children drop change into their box during the offering time.

6.      Participate in communion in whatever way feels comfortable. Tomorrow, we'll actually do communion together. So, have bread and a drink ready to go for this time. Then when the pastor blesses the elements, partake in them together. If your child normally participates in communion during worship, by all means, let them do so now. If they don’t, give them a blessing. Make a sign of the cross on their forehead and say something like, “Jesus says, ‘You are the Light of the World” so go, be the light.” Or “May the love of God keep you and hold you.”   

7.      Participate when you’re asked to. During tomorrow's children's message, I'll ask your kids to share their responses to a couple of questions with you (and I'll actually give you time to do this!) I'll also offer a repeat-a-prayer. Actually do these things together as a family.

8.      Don’t expect your kids to sit still for the whole service. Give them the freedom to move around or set up a “prayground” on the floor with blocks, play-doh, legos, and coloring sheets so that kids can keep their hands busy as they listen. Often, kids listen best when their hands are busy.  

9.      Take advantage of the privacy of your own home to let your kids talk. Remember, questions and observations are a sign of engagement, not disrespect. So, if your child interrupts to ask you a question, let them do so.  

10.   Since worship is a way of life, not just an hour long service, continue the conversation after worship ends. After worship, check-in with your child about what they’re seeing and hearing. Ask questions like,

a.      What did you just notice about X?
b.      What words did you notice during the music, children’s sermon, or sermon? Why do you think those jumped out to you?   
c.      What tone did the pastor use when they were talking? Why do you think that is?  
d.      What questions do you have about what you just saw or heard?     

11.   Talk with your family about how you can continue worshiping together throughout the week. Do daily family devotions about the Scripture passage that served as the text for your service.

Like so many of you, I wholeheartedly value our community and eagerly anticipate returning to it.

Yet, I also think we’re faced with a real opportunity here. You are the primary disciplers of your child’s faith. So, take advantage of this unprecedented moment in history to prioritize worshiping with your family at home… And then continue the conversation throughout the week.

Doing so might just enable you and your kids to grow in your faith in new and unexpected ways and to do so TOGETHER. 

I look forward to hearing about how God moves in your family in the upcoming days... Both via e-mail in the days ahead and after we return to gathering in person.

In the meantime, know that I am here for your family and praying for you by name. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me to connect.

Jen Bradbury
Minister of Youth & Family