Rather than some pithy intro to a blog post, I would simply like to give 10 suggestions of ways churches and student ministries can adjust ministry for the foreseeable future. In keeping with a traditional model that most youth ministry has, here are some possible ways to create your new-normal.
1. Create a Hub: Have a centralized location for students, parents and leaders to get new information and links from you (best scenario is church website and student page—other possibilities include Facebook, a blog page, etc.).
2. Worship: Send a weekly playlist (better yet, solicit a few students to create a vetted playlist) of 3 to 5 songs that can be suggested to listen to to encourage your group. This could be a great way to introduce new worship to be added when we can begin to worship together again.
3. Devotional or Message: We all have smart-phones, why not continue to encourage students through God’s Word? Provide a 15-25 minute talk, devotional or message. If nothing else, lead them through your own way of studying God’s Word and engage them with your heart and passion. Upload to YouTube or Vimeo and provide the link.
4. Facilitate Small Groups Via Video-Chat: Empower your small group leaders to continue to meet with their small group through a format like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Provide small group questions based off your teaching (see #3).
5. Encourage Service: Students grow through service, there are plenty of ways students can use their gifts to serve others right now. Obviously, keep in mind CDC recommendations, but serving your neighbors (yard work), writing letters to shut-ins, serving your own family are all top-of-mind opportunities. Perhaps create an online forum and solicit ideas from your students.
6. Engage Unchurched Friends: Encourage your students to reach out to their churched and unchurched friends to check in and see how they are. Encourage students to share that they are praying for their friends and ask them if there are things they can be praying about. This could lead to opportunities to share the Gospel and the hope we have in Christ alone.
7. Online Gaming: While you can’t get-on-campus, you can get online with students in safe gaming environments. Invite others to join you or your leaders in online gaming forums.
8. Weekly Team Meetings: Continue to serve your leaders well by providing a weekly check-in and training time with your volunteers. They may have suggestions for engagement and you’ll want to hear the stories coming out of their small group times. Again, utilize Zoom or some other online video-chat format.
9. Parent Gathering: Parents would love to be more in-the-know as to what’s happening and being taught in student ministry; creating a once-a-month online gathering now may last far beyond COVID-19. Come to the gathering with a summary of where the teaching is heading, an update on some current trends in teenage culture and provide plenty of time for questions and answers.
10. Prayer Time: Invite students and leaders to an online video-conference for the purpose of prayer. Just like any other prayer gathering, there may be moments of awkward silence, but you can also format the prayer time where you simply ask one or two people to pray before you move to a different subject and ask a couple others to pray specifically for that.
My hope is that we utilize this unique season in such a way that we begin even better practices for when we get to engage in person again!