KidsLife: we are all invited

KidsLife: we are all invited

KidsLife was a fun new TV program by Terrigal Uniting Church — initiated during COVID-19 when their children’s programs couldn’t physically gather — which helped kids engage with God in an online space using creative storytelling, craft and puppetry. Reminiscent of programs like Play School, it was engaging, fun and interactive as every week there were creative crafts to do at home.

It was aimed at preschoolers and early primary children and included stories, craft, music, puppets, animals, and more!

Twelve episodes of about 30 minutes were released on Facebook, YouTube, and their website each Friday morning, starting on 22 May until the end of July where the season finale was released, with over hundreds of views per channel per episode and many shares. Episodes talked about the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock, explored the story of the Good Samaritan, and celebrated that God made us just the way we are, among other topics.

“Thank you, thank you, for this wonderful, generous ministry!”

Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator of the UCA Synod of NSW and ACT

Emma Hunter is the Pastoral Care and Children’s, Youth and Family Minister at Terrigal Uniting Church. She shares this role with her husband, Craig. Together they produced and created all the episodes.

Emma told Insights that when COVID-19 lockdowns came in, they wanted to reach all ages that they work with. “Our Friday Ministry over Zoom reached our Kids ages 8 to 11 and Youth 12 to 17, so we brainstormed the idea to reach our pre-school to early primary. We did do one Zoom for them, but it was a bit tricky. Then we joked about Playschool, watched an episode and the idea of KidsLife was born.”

Terrigal Uniting Church minister Rev. Richard Harris was supportive, as he has always been of new ideas.

Filming, sound and editing was done by talented congregational member Andrew Hawkins.

Terrigal Uniting Church music and communications pastor, Kristy Tritton organised the opening and closing credits and graphics of each episode and also put them online each week.

They tried to use familiar faces from their Kids Church ministry team and playgroup ministry for storytelling.

According to Emma, they wanted to focus on Jesus’ teaching. “As this is preschool-lower primary focused, the story delivery was important. We love telling and reading stories, we’ve collected quite a stash of books, and our church has a wonderful children’s book selection too.”

Emma is trained in early childhood; that’s why kids craft comes easily to her. She also picked up some ideas from Pinterest when needed, and with her husband, would brainstorm about how to tell the story.

It is up to families to decide how, when, or if they watch KidsLife. Emma hopes to find how many children watch once they can all meet in person again. Their Sunday morning Children’s ministry’s largest group is the preschool-lower primary, so this became a great way for them to stay connected.

“Our boys loved watching this and doing the craft. A great program for the kids thanks so much.”

Alison Gallagher, congregant and mother.  

Some of the most significant challenges that they overcame during this first season of KidsLife was Zoom fatigue.

They also ran Zoom bible study and youth groups the whole time, and with extra Zooms in the week for work and their own commitments, they were ready for face-to-face ministry to come back.

“We were really lucky actually, as Craig, myself and our two key Friday leaders met weekly (via Zoom), and we could share the challenges and get creative with ideas to keep us going. One of our other wonderful Friday volunteers attended the weekly Primary school Zoom also, and she was a delight to have. We’ve missed being able to all serve as a team. I’m sure that once it is safe to, it’ll be a celebration to return to ministry for many,” Emma commented.

When asking Emma about advice for those congregations that are working and looking for options to keep kids connected, she said: “This has been such a learning curve I’m not sure I have any words of wisdom. Firstly, care for your team. I hope I have.  I have also really enjoyed the sharing of resources, if we share what we have, surely that’s the best way forward, I have learnt so much from others. I think we also need to remember to keep our childlike view too.”

“Kids often -not all- don’t want to wade through readings and reflections, they get enough of that at school. Physical, creative and active, age-appropriate, engagement is what I need to remember to do. Finally, don’t take it personally if what you put out isn’t used. I know that during this time, many families have not wanted or needed more to do.

“It’s been different for everyone, but kids have had school work and a busy disruptive school year, and some families simply just can’t add another thing to do into their lives. Finally, prayer for families is the best support.”

While the team loved the series and working together, they have since returned full-time to their place of work, so more episodes are not possible at the moment. They do hope to create both a Christmas episode and an Easter episode to share online.

To see the full series of KidsLife click here.

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