COVID-19 is here at it has completely changed the way we are doing youth ministry, church and relationships in general. Do you have a plan? Have you taken time to be strategic with how you are going to stay in front of your students, to engage them spiritually, to help them have some human interaction. There are students who are going to feel more isolated than ever before and need someone to reach out and care about them. This is a time in our world that is going to change how we do things, I believe for the better! Let's be honest, this quarantine is not for the faint of heart. Let's get into it!!
Your communication has never been more important than right now! Do you have a newsletter, do you have an email list of families to communicate with, are you clear and concise with your information, have you asked for feedback on your communication to families? All of those questions are important. It's time to communicate better.
Does your ministry have a YouTube page, Facebook Group, Instagram, etc? Use it consistently but not to much. If you were used to meeting on Wednesday nights with your crew. Go LIVE on Wednesday nights. and engage with your students. My recommendation is to use Zoom. (www.zoom.us) It is a video conferencing tool that offers a free basic account that gives you a lot of great features to use to interact with a group of people.
Using Zoom, here is what your live service online could look like:
Play a Game - get creative (home hunt - contest to see who can bring the home item to their screen first)
Have a devotional to share, do a S.O.A.P. study with your group over a passage of scripture, show a video
Have some discussion questions ready about the devotional
Ask for Prayer requests
For an awesome tutorial on how to use Zoom and the Sidekick App from DYM (downloadyouthministry.com) check this out: https://blog.downloadyouthministry.com/how-to-use-zoom-and-sidekick-for-youth-group-online/
Be consistent with your LIVE events. Make sure you let your students and leaders know well in advance when and how they can access the event.
Think of fun ways you can engage your students in a fun way throughout the week. We are doing a quarantine challenge. Each week we have a different challenge for our students to record themselves doing.
Week 1 - The Impossible Shot - video record yourself making a trick shot at home
Week 2 - Epic Blanket Fort - video record yourself giving everyone a tour of your blanket fort
Week 3 - Chopped - video record yourself making a delicious gourmet meal, mandatory ingredient is hot dog
We will vote on the best one and then I will probably find a random object laying around, spray it gold, wear a hazmat suit and deliver it to the student who won!
You can have fun in so many different ways. Do not stop trying to help students have fun things to do to engage in your youth ministry. Middle school and high school students are bored, give them something fun to do!
Another thing we can do is set loose our students to do ministry to each other. Why not let your students lead out and give a devotional online? Have students record themselves with a devotional thought, a passage of scripture that has been teaching them something and what they are learning through it. When they send you the video, post it on your social media platforms you use for your social media. Don't stop there, put it out on your churches social media platforms and allow students to lead the way through this weird time. You can leverage students in a lot of different ways. Do not think it all has to be on you!
This gives you, the youth pastor, the opportunity to really minister to students. Phone calls, emails, group chats, zoom hangouts, live events and a myriad of other tools are in play and your students need you to care about them in a way they didn't even realize they needed. Just because you can't be physically in front of your students doesn't mean you can't be relational, care about them and minister to them effectively.
Use this time to kick your ministry up a notch. Pray a lot for our country, for your students and for God spirit to move powerfully in our world.
Lets cut straight to the chase, the one small shift that can make the greatest difference in your ministry is to give ministry away. I know, not profound, not cutting edge and its not the first time you have every heard this idea. The difference between this idea being a catalyst for your ministry or just another saying you say out loud but do nothing about is what you do next.
Giving ministry away was something I always said but was so difficult for me to actually pull off. In my pride I thought if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done right. My pride always holds me back from seeing what God can truly pull off. I am still really bad at it but I am trying harder than I ever have before in my 13 years of student ministry experience to pull others into the incredible chaos and allow their gifts to be championed and encouraged to have Kingdom impact.
Some practical tips:
Meet with your volunteers often - It will be difficult to know how to use people if you don't know them. Get with them, be a learner of their life.
Development Takes Time - This may mean that that the person you have delegated to doesn’t do it as well as you might. Thats ok, coach them, give them time and a chance, invest in them and see what it could look like.
Be Creative With What You Give Away - Do what only you can do and give away the rest. It could be an opportunity to develop new opportunities based on the strengths of your leaders and students.
Give Feedback - Help your team with productive constructive feedback. This type of feedback gives points to work on, clarity on what needs done next time so that they can implement the action steps.
Rinse and Repeat - Don’t stop once you’ve started. This is something that has to turn into a value for you in your ministry.
This includes students in your ministry. How can you unleash the potential in your adult volunteers and student leaders in your ministry? This isn’t something that doesn’t take any work and on the front end will take more effort and work on your part. However, giving ministry away is essential to your role as a Kingdom builder and to help people use their gifts in a powerful way.
How you do anything is how you do everything. That statement has been floating around in my brain for a long time. At first I disagreed, then I totally agreed, then I wrestled with it more. The reason I wrestled with it is because I didn't want it to be true. I didn't want to believe that I wasn't disciplined in all areas of my life. The reality is there are certain areas of my life that I struggle with being disciplined in. The more I was honest about my life I could see patterns develop. How I do anything is how I do everything.
When it comes to being healthy in all aspects of life, discipline plays a roll. If you want to be healthy physically you need to be disciplined with exercise and with what you eat. If you want to be healthy emotionally, you need to get plenty of sleep, have a community of people who love you and that you can be honest with. If you want to be healthy mentally you need to be challenging yourself, reading, learning, creating a healthy internal dialogue, knowing your identity and what you believe. If you want to be healthy spiritually you need to be in God's word consistently, pray constantly, practice fasting, taking time to be still and silent, listen to the Holy Spirit and surround yourself with people who can encourage and challenge you to be who God wants you to be. In all of those aspects of life it takes discipline. With each area of life, you are faced with choices to make to pursue health in that area. Those choices determine how you do certain things. I believe that if you make healthy decisions with one area that will help you make a healthy decision in all areas.
I am a walking case study. My diet has always been my achilles heal, Im not unhealthy but I am definitely not the healthy physical adonis that sometimes I convince myself I am. When life is stressful I have a decision to make, Oreos (anything sugary, fatty, etc) or no. For whatever reason I find comfort in comfort foods and that has been evident as I look back over my life. I have seasons of good decision making when it comes to my physical health. There have been seasons of consistent working out, running, eating right. In those seasons I have found that most other areas of my life are operating like they should as well; I am more patient, I spend more time with God, I am emotionally in a better place, I am mentally more clear and intentional. When life gets hard, busy, or not ideal is when the rubber meets the road for me. How I do anything is how I do everything. When I am disciplined in the area that has the most control over my life, the other areas fall in line. When I am undisciplined, I am undisciplined everywhere. Sure, it has taken my 38 years to figure it out, but I have. That doesn't mean I will always have it under control but it means that I know myself a little better than I did years ago and that will inform my future!
How self aware are you? This took me being really honest with myself to get to this point. I don't like admitting my flaws because I desperately want people to think I have it all together. The truth is, I don't. Every day is a new day for tough decisions, choices that will affect other people and other aspects of my life.
How you do anything is how you do everything... change my mind!
What areas of your life influence the other areas of your life?