Q&A with DCE Kristi Bauer
During the pandemic, Bauer’s role has shifted to producing resources and maintaining one-on-one relationships with church members.
Many church buildings have been empty during the COVID-19 pandemic, but ministry has not stopped. For Director of Christian Education Kristi Bauer, who serves at Hope Lutheran Church in Hastings, Minn., it has been just the opposite. Since March, much of Bauer’s work has shifted to producing online videos for children and adults — including holding the church’s first virtual vacation Bible school. She also keeps up with members of all ages through phone calls, emails, texts, Instagram, Snapchat, socially distanced visits and in whatever other ways are needed. Bauer recently took time to chat about what her ministry has looked like during this unusual time.
How have things changed for you since the pandemic started?
A: If you had told me a year ago that canceling all church services and closing the church would result in 90-hour weeks and exhaustion, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are. … As far as ministry, it’s really taken it back to placing the emphasis on parents in the home to provide Christian education and formation for their children.
Did you take on any new responsibilities?
A: One of my biggest things is working with our preschool. Our church had to figure out how to do distance learning with preschoolers, and I pioneered a daily YouTube chapel time. … It kind of captured the attention of families not only in our church, but outside of our church and in the community. It was a fun faith highlight. But I would also play games, have parents on as mystery readers and do scavenger hunts. It became a little piece of normalcy in the craziness.
Has the situation changed the way you work?
A: Even now because we can’t gather as a whole, I feel like I do ministry more individually rather than in a group or in a class. It’s a lot of text messages or side conversations or birthday drive-bys. It takes way more effort, energy and time to cover the people within the congregation.
How are you encouraging faith formation in the home?
A: This fall, we’re not doing in-person Sunday school. I’m putting together take-home Sunday school kits instead. … Church is church, but then you have the rest of your life. I’m trying to break that down to show that it’s interwoven. A lot of parents feel ill-equipped or underqualified to pray with their kids or have a faith conversation. I want to help parents see that the greatest gift they can give their child is Christian education and restructuring for time around God and something that’s lasting and eternal. I’m pulling from a bunch of different resources for the kits.
Have you seen any positives come out of this time?
A: Seeing [the youth] make church a priority. It is a priority, and it really is all they had. Here in Hastings, we had no summer softball, no summer baseball, not even show choir camp. It was all canceled. Seeing them bring friends and make church a place where they want to be has been really rewarding. We’ve been here all along — they just didn’t realize it.
Megan K. Mertz
Managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and chief copy editor for LCMS Communications.