Strong Connections

Strong Church ~ Strong Connections

General Resources & Admin PRESCHOOL & CHILDREN'S MINISTRY STUDENT MINISTRY 

ADULT MINISTRY WORSHIP AND MUSIC MINISTRY

Welcome to the STRONG CHURCH ~ STRONG CONNECTIONS resource page.  Like many other South Carolina church leaders you are wondering how it is possible to stay connected with your church, small group or Sunday School class during these challenging times created by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Well, you have come to the right place. Our goal in creating this resource page is to offer both help and encouragement to anyone, pastor-staff or lay-leader, serving in a small church or leading a small group.  

In order to provide structure for the resource page, and to allow users to go directly to their areas of interest or responsibility, the page has been divided into five sections: General Resources & Admin; Children’s Ministry; Student Ministry, Adult Ministry and Worship & Music.  Please check each section daily as we will continually add new helps and resources to all five focus areas.

As you lead in the coming day, please allow us three observations about the social distancing that seems to be so disruptive to our fellowships:

#1 - Social Distancing Does Not Mean Relational Distancing.  
What it does mean is we will have to think more intentionally about staying connected.  You will find several suggestions for using technology in the General Resources & Admin section.  If you are intimidated by technology, you are not alone and there is some good news. Our fancy cellphones can still be used to make phone calls.  Who have you intentionally contacted by phone today? (Physical distancing would have been a much better phrase...but no one asked us.)  

#2 - Don’t Let Perfection Hinder Connections.
Everyone reading this is in unknown territory.  That means anything we try may not go exactly as planned the first (or second) time.  Please do not let fear of failure prevent the attempt of something new. The goal is staying connected with those we lead.  As we use new resources, there are bound to be a few bumps in the road.  

#3 - Be Strong and Courageous.
Take a few minutes to read Joshua chapter one.  Joshua was given the challenge of leading a very “challenged” group of people to possess a land they had little interest in acquiring.  The encouragement Joshua received in chapter one, is the same encouragement offered today. Be Strong and Courageous! Please know that the Church Strengthening Team is praying for you, and is here to offer both help and encouragement as you lead well in “challenging” times.  

General Resources & admin
48 Questions to Ask Prior to Reopening Your Church

Ken Braddy (LifeWay's Director of Sunday School, Manager of LifeWay Christian Resource's Adult Ongoing Bible Studies & Adult Trainers, education pastor 20+ years, author, conference leader, and blogger) developed a very thorough list of “things to think about” over the coming weeks as we begin the process of “reopening” our church facilities.
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How to Lead Through Crisis: Strategies For Navigating Rapid And Unexpected Change

Carey Nieuwhof has made this 7 session online training course available for free.  It is intended to help leaders “Master the art of fast-paced, clear decision making; Cultivate a non-anxious presence to lead with confidence and trust; Advance your digital presence to scale past physical barriers and grow your outreach; and Learn and leverage the best strategies to lead your team and congregation virtually.”
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Preparing Your Benevolence Ministry for Coronavirus Aftermath

As churches and individuals/families begin to experience some financial changes due to the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Todd McMichen from Lifeway offers some helpful tips that will prepare churches to be proactive in their benevolence ministries
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How to Navigate COVID-19 and Church Giving

In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast, Todd Adkins and Chandler Vannoy are joined by Todd McMichen, director of Generosity by LifeWay. They discuss the following questions:  What do I say on Sunday? How can you communicate this throughout the week? How can pastors lead their people to live a generous life during this time? What do I do if giving starts to tank?  How do we help people have a good experience giving online? During this season, how should churches handle benevolence?
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Online Worship - Small Groups & Sunday School

A very helpful article from Ken Braddy, LifeWay’s Director of Sunday School, offering information about using platforms such as Facebook Live, Zoom, and even simple emails to stay connected with your groups/classes.  Using this technology is not as hard as you think. Open FaceBook, click on the “Live” button, and you are ready to stream this week’s Sunday School lesson.  (The article also includes links to free resources for Bible Study. )
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Online Small Groups & Sunday School

Here’s a podcast/audio recording with tips for leading a group in an online setting.  These tips work with Sunday School classes or home Bible Study groups. Make sure to click on the “Show Notes” section.  This includes detailed instructions on how to use Google Hangout as an option for “meeting” with your group. (Many thanks to Longhollow Baptist Church.)  
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Called To Lead: Church Leadership Conference (April 29, 1:00-4:00PM)

The calling has not changed, but just about everything else has.  Leaders on every level are asking how to shepherd in these very different times.  Called to Lead offers clarity from some of the best leaders/teachers in our Convention.
Learn More/Register

How Are Others Dealing With Ministry & COVID-19

This is an article with a compilation of resources for church leaders attempting to continue ministry with church members during the current crisis. The content comes from a survey asking various pastors from around the country what they are doing to address the COVID-19 situation.
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How Church Leaders Are Responding to the Challenges of COVID-19

In partnership between The Billy Graham Center’s Send Institute, Leadership Network, Catalyst, the Association of Related Churches (ARC), Exponential, and Discipleship.org over 1500 pastors and church leaders were surveyed as these ministries sought to understand their churches' current response to the challenges resulting from COVID-19. This document presents the findings from that survey along with some innovative ideas that are helping overcome the challenges.
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How Church Leaders Are Responding to the Challenges of COVID-19

In partnership between The Billy Graham Center’s Send Institute, Leadership Network, Catalyst, the Association of Related Churches (ARC), Exponential, and Discipleship.org over 1500 pastors and church leaders were surveyed as these ministries sought to understand their churches' current response to the challenges resulting from COVID-19. This document presents the findings from that survey along with some innovative ideas that are helping overcome the challenges.
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Zoom Settings to Address Security Issues

Matt Jewell from Rivers Crossing Church has created a one page summary that includes video links for Zoom tips and a list of Zoom Settings that should be set correctly in order to increase the security of Zoom Meetings.
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Preschool & Children's Ministry
From Kathy Miles, Preschool & Children’s Ministry Director - "As children’s ministry leaders, we find ourselves seeking new ways of connecting with kids and families in this uncertain time of canceling events and services due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s a wonderful opportunity for parents to take ownership of the discipleship process and maximize the time we have with our children. This time can be fun, engaging, and life transforming as God continues to work in the hearts of our people. Here are some resources that will make this transition easier for kids and families."
Resources For Parents and Ministry Leaders

Covid -19 Guide to Re-Gathering Preschool and Children’s Ministries
Resource guiding churches through questions and points to consider as their church teams strategize a plan for re-gathering their preschool and children’s ministries following the Covid-19 crisis. 
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Helping Our Most Vulnerable Children
The ERLC gives us tips on how the church can stand in the gap for those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Good Conversations With Children
There really is an App for everything...including this App designed to help kids and parents have deeper conversations about God and daily engagement in His word.
Download the App

Help for Families With Children
4 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Coronavirus by Josh Straub
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6 things to give our children while the coronavirus keeps us at home 
An encouraging article for parents from the ERLC discussing how to maximize time they have with their children during this time at home. 
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Family Worship Experience
Article teaching families how to have a family worship experience at home.
Kidsministry.lifeway.com

A New Type of Learning
Great article from a University of South Carolina College of Education clinical instructor on how to lead our children well as adults, parents, and community members during COVID-19.
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Curriculum, Trainings, and FAQ 
Another great site to find resources for your church needs. From free curriculum to training your leaders, you’ll find answers here. 
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Bible Studies At Home
Lifeway Kids at Home and Lifeway Preschool at Home are designed to help families conduct kids Bible studies at home. Each session features a Bible story video, life application videos, downloadable activity pages and family discussion guides. This free resource also includes a mission’s moment and a Gospel presentation video.
Lifeway digital pass

Lifeway Kids at home

Church Weekday Education 

CARES Act Information
Making preparations for the CARES Act and how it affects your church staff.  
The CARES Act & Your Church Staff: What You Need to Know

COVID Pandemic Phase III Stimulus Package makes churches eligible for relief

Online Read-Aloud and Activity Links
This website includes links to videos of popular children’s book authors doing online read-alouds and activities.
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Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems!
Calling all elementary kids! At 1 PM, it’s lunch doodle time every day with Mo Willems from the Kennedy Center Education Artist in Residence.  Learn to draw all kinds of fun things!
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Daily Virtual Tours at Riverbanks Zoo
Keep your kids busy with Z-Learning virtual tours at Riverbanks Zoo each day. It’s the WILD side of E-Learning!
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Keeping Kids Engaged in Learning! 
It’s time to see how Scholastic can help you think, grow and learn. Here are some day to day projects to keep your kids busy!Learn More

20 Ideas for Keeping Your Toddler Entertained
A list of easy, inexpensive things to do using materials that you generally have around the house.
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CWE Strategies that Work during COVID-19 - Directors Zoom Meeting
This link provides the notes from our Director’s Zoom Meeting held on April 2, 2020
View Meeting Notes

VBS

4 VBS Strategies this Summer - Free Downloadable E-Book!
Explore 4 methods of hosting an incredible VBS for your church this summer. This e-book provides strategies and tips for making sure you navigate all possibilities for a successful experience!
View/Download

Say “Yes to VBS” this summer!
This blog provided by Lifeway will help leaders begin to explore ways families can experience the largest evangelistic outreach event of the year.
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God will Work through VBS this summer
This blog provided by Life gives an update on how to stand on a firm foundation as leaders think about VBS for the summer in light of the current COVID-19 issues.

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VBS Leadership Training
These resources from Lifeway will help equip your VBS volunteers through quality online teacher training videos. Be ready for a great season where God will work in the hearts of kids.  There are videos for Preschool Bible Study Leaders, Children’s Bible Study Leaders, Recreation Leaders, Snack Leaders, Missions Leaders, Music Leaders and Craft Leaders. It’s free and found in the VBS Directors Club or available on their YouTube channel.

VBS Directors CLub

VBS Videos

Student Ministry

From Bryant Laird, Student Ministry Director - "Student ministry leaders are given credit for being naturally creative and open to trying new ideas.  Many of the elements now common in local church worship, started in student ministry. Some of the best ideas for creatively dealing   with ministry during the Coronavirus will come from student ministry. Below you will find a springboard of ideas coming from publishers, great student pastors and student ministry organizations, offering lots of ideas for ministry and connecting points for students.  (Parents and student leaders will benefit too.) "

Resources You Can Count On

Did you know LifeWay has a website focused only on student ministry?  Here are lots of resources to help stay engaged with your students. 
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Lifeway's digital student ministry curriculum

LifeWay is also making all their digital student ministry curriculum free during the COVID-19 pandemic.  All you have to do is register after clicking on the following link:
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From Our Friends At YM360

Here’s a great resource from ym360.com to help student ministries who don’t have an online presence on Wednesday nights.  This is a live streamed bible study and worship experience for teenagers you can take advantage of for free!
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Equipping Students for Time in God’s Word

YM360 is providing a great way for student pastors to show care for their students during the COVID-19 Pandemic through their Care Packages.  Students receive a heartfelt, personal care package from you that includes a devotional, sticker, pen, and a bag. You can have them delivered straight to the student or to your church so you can add your own items.
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Counseling & Discipling Student During COVID-19

Are you pondering what’s the best way to lead students during COVID-19?  Here is a conversation with Dylan Davis and Deandra Comer about counseling students through the challenges they face during our stay at home order.
Watch the Video

How Do Your Students View The World

Are you ready to challenge your students? The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has an online Academy that seeks to equip the next generation to examine and critically apply the gospel to complex moral and ethical issues facing the church in society.  Use the registration link below and don’t forget to use one of the online streaming services to engage your students in a discussion of what they heard.  
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Additional Training for Students

The Colson Center has provided a free course on worldview and culture for students with experts such as John Stonestreet, Sean McDowell and Brett Kunkle.  They have made those sessions and related resources available for free. Students may use the link below to find all the sessions and information The Colson Center provided.
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How Are Others Facing The Challenge

David Bennett, Associate Pastor to Students at Lake Murray Baptist Church, shares their strategy for ministering to students during the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Watch Video

DownloadYouthMinistry.com

DownloadYouthMinistry.com is hosting student ministry leaders’ ideas on ministering to teenagers in the age of COVID-19 from all over the world for free. See what student ministry leaders are submitting who might be outside of our usual networks.
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Utilizing zoom calls

Check out the resources below to learn best practices for hosting and moderating ZOOM calls with your student groups.
Zoom Room Tips  Zoom for Small Groups How to Host a Zoom Call

Fun with Students on Zoom

Are you looking for a fun and creative way to bring excitement to your Zoom meeting with students?  Zoom Byeee is the answer. In a Survivor style competition, Students answer trivia questions, search for scavenger items and face immunity challenges.  This resource was created by one of our own: Jason Hall from Millbrook Baptist Church in Aiken, SC. Check it out!
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Adult Ministry 

From Bobby Howard, Generations Group Director - "When Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples in the Great Commission, he never included any exceptions such as “unless you are to abide by ‘social distancing’ guidelines or when you have been asked to ‘shelter in place.’”  We are living in some interesting times that present new challenges, but with technological advancements, staying relationally connected during times of physical separation has never been easier. Churches are avoiding large group gatherings, but small group Bible Study Groups and Sunday School Classes have many opportunities to continue getting together, even in a virtual online setting.  Take an advantage of this time to try some new ways of connecting with your group members. Here are a few resources to give some ideas for continuing to make disciples while limiting larger group gatherings."

Promoting Mental Health Through the Coronavirus Pandemic:

As Bible Study Group Leaders have opportunities to network and support group members through Bible Study and Prayer, it is likely that one will discover some adults who are experiencing difficulties that manifests in similar ways as PTSD. Stephen Grcevich has written an article for the Southern Baptist ERLC in which he gives leaders some practical ways to offer support.
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Remember the Value of a Phone

We live in a day where people carry phones almost at all times, yet very few actually use the device to make a phone call.  In Adult Ministry, especially when considering ways to stay connected with senior adults, making phone calls can be an invaluable tool.  In an Oklahoma Baptist Messenger editorial Executive Director-Treasurer, Hance Dilbeck, offers a six step guide for making ministry phone calls.
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Staying In Community During Crisis

Social distancing does not have to mean relational distancing.  Here is a podcast/audio recording that focuses on communicating, serving, giving, and praying in the midst of the current crisis.
Listen

10 Tips for a Better (and Safer) Online Group Experience

With so many small groups and Sunday School Classes being forced to meet in a virtual environment right now, Ken Braddy offers some “best practices” for leading online groups in htis blog.
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Facebook Groups Opens Doors for Ongoing Connections & Bible Study

This helpful article from Facts and Trends includes information about using Facebook Groups for achieving your Sunday School goals of Bible Study, Prayer, and Encouraging one another during these unusual days.
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Digital Discipleship

Michael Foster and Brett Williams share information in an article from smallgroups.com in which they highlight some key features of various digital platforms with information to help church leaders determine the best options for their groups.
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Worship and Music Ministry

From Matt Freeman, Associate Director of Worship and Music - Times have drastically changed. Many churches are forbidden to meet together. What should our ministry look like now? What should we be doing with our time? How do we meet the worship needs of our congregations when we are scattered? These posts and new ones coming in the next several weeks will walk with you and help you make sense of these times. In conjunction with other Baptist state convention consultants, the following resources have been specifically curated for the current times. Please let us know if there are any topic that you’d like to see addressed and visit our page at www.resourcingworship.com for more info!

How to Approach Easter Amid COVID-19

Easter is the highlight of the Christian year—the culmination of the gospel story. Redemption. Resurrection. Eternal life. With churches not being able to celebrate Easter together due to social distancing and limits on public gatherings because of the coronavirus, what should the church do?
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COVID-19 and Worship: Resources for Churches Adapting to Social Isolation

As containment of COVID-19 forces your worshiping community to implement “shelter-in-place” worship and practice social isolation, we offer these resources to help you plan and cope in ways that encourage and support your community. These resources were initially created from events and in response to different situations and can be adapted for worship that encourages prayer and Christian community during this time of social distancing necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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Songs to Sing in a Pandemic

As a worship leader who has impacted the global church for years, Bob Kauflin’s insights on the types of songs we should be using in this season are very timely. Take a look as you consider how best to be leading your faith family right now.
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Free Training, Documents, and Checklists to Lead Your Church through the Coronavirus

With the spread of the coronavirus, LifeWay wants to help churches take the appropriate measures to plan, prepare, and protect their people from the pandemic. In this free training, you will find practical videos, ministry-specific checklists, ready-to-use documents, and a sample pandemic policy all for you to contextualize for your church.
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