DIAMOND – Step aside, Flat Stanley. Flat Jesus is here.
When Ron Crow, pastor of First Baptist Church, Diamond, was trying to think of a way to keep kids engaged with the church when families could not gather in person, his mind went to his two daughters.
“When things started closing down, I told them I was burdened for our children. ‘What can I do for the kids?’ They said, ‘Flat Jesus!’”
Both school teachers, Crow’s daughters were familiar with Flat Stanley. Flat Stanley is a paper character that many schools and classrooms across the nation cut out and mail to various locales. Each student’s Flat Stanley and its respective journal are mailed to other people who are asked to treat the figure as a visiting guest and add to the journal, then return them both after a period of time.
So Crow sent a cardstock cutout of “Flat Jesus” to the children of First Baptist Church, allowing them to each color their own and carry a constant reminder that Jesus was with them always, even though they couldn’t go to church.
Each Wednesday night, Crow took to Facebook Live and did a 10- or 15-minute Bible story, incorporating his own Flat Jesus into the biblical narrative. Beyond that, he encouraged kids to take their Flat Jesus everywhere with them, and share pictures of their “adventures” on the church’s Facebook page.
“I’ve had adults ask for their own Flat Jesus so they can be part of it too,” Crow said.
It was more than something fun, though, he said. It was about intentionally connecting with kids and making sure they knew they were still a part of the church while having to worship at home via video.
Even when church services were purely online during April and May, Crow made sure to continue his practice of including a children’s sermon each week.
“I just talk to the kids through the camera,” he said. [Online worship] doesn’t have to be just an ‘adult thing.’ Anything to help families and children stay engaged.”