Helping kids engage with an online festival: Facebook Live

14 July 2020

It’s another part of our weird Covid year – online festivals. The good news is that they will be beamed right into our living rooms, we can access them all and they are free: the bad news is that they’re not what we’re used to.

For many of us, going to summer festivals is a huge part of our family’s summer. But although we can’t physically gather this year, the organisers are putting together some amazingly creative and high quality content. But it’s not what we, or our kids are used to, so how can we get the most out of these online festivals for ourselves and our families?

In one of our Bedtime Drinks with Rachel Facebook Lives, Rachel shares some ideas on how to shape these festivals to your family.

You can watch each of Rachel’s sessions below (beware – there’s two for the teens session!) or scroll down for a short summary. You can also listen to each video as a podcast episode. You can find the story resources Rachel mentioned here.

For parents of under-5s

For parents of 5–11s

For parents of pre-teens and teens (two videos)

For parents of under-5s

Think about how YOU want to engage with the festival

Be released from the pressure of the programme

  • See the programme as a buffet which you pick and choose from rather than a tasting menu where plate after plate is brought to you and your job is to try them all.
  • Fit the sessions round your kids rather than your kids round the sessions: you don’t have to watch them all¬ or watch them live.
  • Even if your kid doesn’t want to engage with it, see the sessions as an opportunity to learn from some people who are experts in kids and spirituality – then you can take the ideas you want to try and do that when and where it works for you.

Pay attention to what you value in the experience of festivals

  • Why is it important for you that your kid goes to a summer festival? Is it you want them to get teaching, or you want them to experience the big community of God or something else? When you’ve worked that out, find ways to recreate those values as part of how you engage with the festival.

For parents of 5–11s and pre-teens and teens

Be released from the pressure of the programme

  • See the programme as a buffet which you pick and choose from rather than a tasting menu where plate after plate is brought to you and your job is to try them all.
  • Engage with the programme as a family: check out the programme, discuss the bits you want to do, decide how you want to do it, whether that’s hardcore back garden camping, watching every single thing, creating a festival room, or just dipping in and out from the comfort of the sofa.

Think about what you value about the festival

  • Festivals aren’t just about the teaching: talk about what your family value about it. It might be seeing your friends, the teaching, the freedom to spend time with your peers, worship, time as a family, staying up late, hearing stories of others’ faith journeys, camping – whatever it is, see if there are ways to replicate those elements of the festival at home.
  • Do what you enjoy too, and create windows into your faith journey by allowing your children to see what you love doing and frame the impact it has on you.

Take what you need from the kids’ ministry (5–11s)

  • Give your kids the option to participate in the ways that suit them best: maybe watching it all live, but maybe viewing it later. Find out what your kids value about the kids ministry so if they don’t want to watch it all you can point them to those bits or take ideas to use later.
  • You might want to watch it alongside your kid and operate as their small group leader, or just be there.
  • See the kids’ ministry as a resource for you to learn from and take the ideas you like and try them yourself at home.

Take what you need from the youth ministry (pre-teens and teens)

  • Allow them to participate in their time and at their own pace. Your preteens and teens may or may not want to engage with the youth ministry. Not necessarily because they are disinterested, but maybe they don’t want anything else on a screen.
  • Even if your young person doesn’t want to watch the youth stuff, you can watch it and later on talk to them about things that interested or surprised you, maybe playing them just the relevant clip.
  • See the youth ministry as a resource for you to learn from too.

Talk about what isn’t replaceable

  • Acknowledge what they will miss, whether that’s the freedom your kids have on site, or the leaders they were expecting to see, or experiencing worship on a grand scale, and use these things as starting places for great conversations.

Image by Claire Burton, used with permission