Mom or Dad, how do you respond to uncertainty and confusion in your life? When things that are happening in your world, in your personal life, in your work life that you don’t understand, how do you process and how do you respond? Your response to uncertainty in your life will more than likely be your child’s response to uncertainty in their lives. As you parent your child you responsibility first and foremost is to be a reflection of Jesus and show them the Gospel. Your teenager is trying to process through a ton of situations and circumstances all while figuring out who they are. How you parent in times of uncertainty may be some of the most important parenting you will ever do.
Now that you feel the pressure, relax! God would not have given you this task of parenting in the first place if He didn’t think you could do it. He will give you what you need, when you need it, however you will need it. Helping your teenager through uncertainty is a big deal and there will be some common responses you will see and probably feel yourself.
On response is selfishness. I am sure you are fighting self centeredness with your teenager regardless of whats happening in life. Especially when things are crazy around you, self centeredness is a common response because it is a way to have control. Usually uncertainty and confusion means a lack of control. Being selfish is a way to bring everything in to control whats going on. This attitude is the opposite of how God calls us to live.
When you react selfishly you start caring more about your well being than anyone else.
When you react selfishly you make decisions that are all about you.
When you react selfishly you become callus the needs of those around you.
When you react selfishly you relinquish trust in God and act like everything depends on you.
Our selfish response keeps us from living the life that God calls us to live!
Another response to uncertainty and confusion is fear. Being fearful can be paralyzing and hold you back from living the life that God intended. It is natural for teenagers to be fearful of the unknown, the uncertain and the confusing. As a parent, leaning into that fear and uncovering “the why” behind it is so important. Help your teenager realize that our God is the God of hope, not fear. Fear consumes and holds you back, hope multiplies and propels you forward!
When you react in fear you paralyze yourself from what could be.
When you react in fear your focus is on the wrong thing.
When you react in fear your trust is misplaced.
When you react in fear your eyes are closed to what God is doing all around you.
Our fearful response holds us back from living life to the fullest as God intended.
Here are a few passages of scripture to read with your teenager and reflect on with them:
Some questions to help you engage with your teenager:
What things in life are you afraid of? Why?
If God was standing right next to you when you are afraid, would that change anything? Why or why not?
How did Jesus respond to His disciples fear in the passages of scripture above?
What is one small step you can take to be less fearful and less selfish?
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.