Covid Safe Creative Prayer for All
This time last year, I never thought I would be writing that title!
I've always been a fan of making space for intergenerational creative praying, but with all the rules surrounding worship many smaller churches are opting for intergenerational (all age) worship as their main point of gathering - both on line and in person.
So how do you do creative prayer activities that are both engaging and safe for all, and work in multiple contexts? With lots of planning and time!
In this post I'm just looking at hybrid Sunday morning intergenerational activities - how to make them work for all, regardless of age or ability.
(A later posts will cover children and youth groups in person and online).
It's hard to find things that everyone will enjoy in the context of worship, that is simple, fun and something that teaches or encourages faith growth.
This has always been something that takes time to plan, but now we need an extra 72 hours to pack individual bags of stuff and leave them to 'decontaminate', or give notice to people to gather their own things to use.
Activities that include shouting, blowing, moving around or sharing props can no longer be used, so we have to think strategically.
Basic Things To Consider:
Keep in mind your demographic. Families who live on a tight budget, those with additional needs and disabilities, those who struggle with reading or concepts.
Make sure what you choose will work in the home and in the church.
Send a letter on Monday with a 'Next Sunday you will need' list. Invite those who don't have those things to let you know privately so you can provide them.
Make a video of the activity being done - nothing fancy, just clear instructions and you actually doing it - this works better if live streaming from a service. (Send it out in advance to families who have children with additional needs)
Consider using things that would be normal in every household and give out spares if needed (Delivered for online households). Not every family will have access to the basics - even paper and crayons. We can't assume everyone will have stuff!
Small paper carrier bags will be your friend - for either placing on seats in advance or delivering to homes.
Give options for non writers, those who don't speak, and those with additional needs such as demand avoidance (Think can't, not won't for these children!)
Keep the instructions simple - no more than three steps to complete (Intro, Ponder, Pray)
Take care with language - don't say "If you can't write", instead just give all the options such as "you can either write, draw or scribble, maybe even use an action or sign instead". I often err on the side of scribbles and drawings, but give the option to write as the optional extra.
If you have the budget, consider party bag fillers that are sold in bulk so they can be used and taken home or disposed of. (Again, think pre-prepared small paper carrier bags that will be placed on seats)
If you have a bigger budget, seek out reusable stuff that can be wiped over with bleach and reused for another activity with another subject (All my prayer activities can be used with multiple subjects - familiarity is helpful!)
Some Other Practical Thinking:
Want to use bubbles? Don't blow - waft the bubble wand to produce the bubbles instead
Need to shout? Teach the Makaton or BSL sign instead (Opt for one or the other - don't swap around)
Want to use sweets? Wrapped packets only, placed on seats - put out 72 hours before or the time frame in your risk assessments. Remember those who will be at home!
Look at your activity, assess and find another way. If there is no other way - choose a different one