• Fran Kirby

Reaching Anglican youngsters with the gospel

You can learn all sorts of things by running a church’s kids’ ministry during a pandemic.

I learnt the importance of taking the breeze into account when you want to teach a memory verse with the help of paper boats. I got a fresh sense of their enthusiasm for relating to one another and to us as we all hung out each week for our Zoom socials. I discovered the humour that can come from resourcefulness – as when we taught Galatians 5 with the previously unknown ‘carrotfruit of peace’. I learnt the encouragement of teaching kids in a church which cares as much for its youngest members as it does for its oldest. And I came to understand more deeply the preciousness of knowing the One whom no pandemic can change (Hebrews 13:8) and on whose shoulders rests all our presents and futures (Ephesians 2:6–10).

When the first lockdown came into effect in March 2020, it was just eighteen months since our church’s revitalisation. In 2017, St Martin’s Stockport was set to close; in August 2018, following a huge amount of prayer and considerable support from the Diocese of Manchester, a team from Holy Trinity Platt was commissioned to join St Martin’s small but faith-filled congregation. Perhaps that made our March 2020 reinvention of kids’ ministry far simpler – we only had a short history of what ‘normal’ looked like. In retrospect (though it was something of a baptism of fire at the time!), I’m also grateful that my husband and I only took over as kids’ ministry leaders in March 2020. We were spared having to shelve carefully made plans for the term ahead (since we hadn’t yet made any!) and we also came armed with plenty of enthusiasm for our new roles.

Our new roles turned out to be a combination of kids’ TV producers, scriptwriters, presenters and editors. It wasn’t something my husband and I had anticipated when we got married, but it turns out that his film-industry background and my theological training were a wonderful combination for 2020 gospel ministry! Starting that very first lockdown Sunday, we produced a weekly half hour video as the main substitute for our in-person ministry. The videos started as a means to teach the small group of children at St Martin’s – but they ended up being used by three other local churches. And that in itself was a huge encouragement. Having been so blessed by other churches in the course of the revitalisation, it was a