It's now been a full year of virtual church so I thought it would be appropriate to document what that looks like for us!
Our virtual church location has actually moved around a bit; we started out in the living room but moved down to the basement in the fall as we decided that setting things up in some approximation of "pews" might help the general atmosphere.
At first allowing the kids to colour the bulletin and play with quiet toys like lego, kinetic sand and playdough seemed to work alright but they found it difficult to participate actively in the service with such distractions, so when we moved downstairs we changed our approach.
Usually we dress up for church. Elizabeth has had tournament team scheduled before, after and during live services on and off depending on the restrictions du jour so in the interest of scheduling we have relaxed the dress code. Sometimes we've relaxed it right down to pjs! Gotta take advantage of some of the perks of virtual services!
Another perk is the fact that we can start the service later! If we are running behind with breakfast, want to have some outdoor time before the service, have a child that is having a meltdown and therefore not quite in the right frame of mind for worship or conflicts with church we have been known to start our service a bit later. This has made for much more relaxed mornings.
Once the service starts, we have also taken advantage of the pause button. Are the kids being too noisy to hear the service? We can pause and start that part over. We've also had some "instructed" service times where we have done parts of the service more than once. We ask the kids to participate to the best of their ability until the sermon. During the sermon usually they are to try to draw what the preacher is talking about, but if they really don't feel like it then they can play quietly.
The kids do seem to be more engaged with the service as a result and are definitely quieter. Our Sunday mornings do still trend towards the chaotic but at least we feel that when we go back in person they won't be climbing the walls and completely out of practice in modeling church appropriate behaviour!
I'm told the best part of pandemic church is cookie time afterwards, because often they get more than one.