Youth ministry during COVID-19
We had to pull up stumps and change the way we gathered – no longer could we meet face to face, we either went online or we stopped gathering. This presented youth leaders with a unique challenge: how would they keep young people interested in an online gathering when they’d spent all week connecting to classes online?
In no small part it’s been easy to see God at work in these efforts. Young people shouting into Zoom meetings as they ran around the house looking for the next item in an ‘at-home scavenger hunt’. Real warmth in relationship was encouraged and developed as they prayed and cared for each other, and cracked jokes about silly hats or strange jumpers (or whatever that week’s dress-up challenge was). The intention was clear–with God in our midst this was not going to beat us.
Leaders like Craig & Emma Hunter, AJ Hawkins, Kristy Tritton, and the team at Terrigal Uniting Church delivering their online ‘KidsLife’ show for Kinder and early primary-aged people is a great example of the creative spirit of God at work amongst us, and really is a blessing to the wider church.
VicTas Synod Intergen Youth Ministry Consultant Bradon French and I created weekly chaos with ‘CALM DOWN’, the only online, late-night chat show in the country. The less said about that, the better (they are still available on the PULSE Facebook page should you choose to hunt them down).
We did, however, drop the ball right on the try line. There was lots of talk about how we could pivot*, becoming more agile* as we faced the impact of this unprecedented* pandemic. We talked a big game as we were presented with the opportunity to re-think how and why we gathered. Could we do it better? Could we engage young people in the centre of our gatherings? Very few congregations did much work on this, as was evidenced by how quickly we rushed back to gathering the same old way as quickly as we could. We must continue to work at reshaping who we are to prioritise young people and their families everywhere.
I know we have all seen God at work around us during this time of upset caused by the Coronavirus. Its impact will shape our stories for years to come. Be encouraged to get better at sharing these stories with each other…and maybe even share them online. Ask a young person to show you how to do this, and then ask how the pandemic affected them.
Sharing our story is vital to who we are as a people of God, and will help us when we have the opportunity to talk to someone about the difference Jesus makes in our lives.
*Please never use these words again.
Steve Molkentin is a Senior Field Officer for Pulse. He can be contacted at SteveM@nswact.uca.org.au.