Care for yourself and your family first
A lockdown can be stressful and so it’s important to manage this stress and the health of your family first. Volunteer youth leaders should not feel pressured to keep the youth ministry functioning at a cost to themselves.
(God’s still able to work in young people’s lives!) Paid youth workers have a greater responsibility to keep the youth ministry functioning, albeit differently, but they too must attend to themselves and their family and talk to church leadership about the extent to which they’re able to full continue to maintain their work hours.
Explore options for meeting online
Zoom seems to be the preferred option among youth leaders. Up to 100 people can be in a single session using audio and video and there is the facility to divide into a number of breakout rooms for small group discussion. On the free plan, a session can last up to 40 minutes. Paid plans start at about NZ$25/month.
Other options include Google Hangouts and Skype.
Communicate individually to young people
Now more than ever it is important to ensure that there are good lines of communication between leadership and young people. If you don’t have a reliable, up to date contact database, make that a priority and use all the technology at your fingertips to connect. It helps ensure you don’t “lose” young people at this time and it also enables you to be aware of pastoral issues as they arise.
As youth leaders our ministry is not just to young people but to their families too. Communicate with parents and, if you’re able, make yourself available to them as a resource person to support them through this time, or arrange for older people in your church they can contact. They may be the first to be aware that their teen is not coping and contact with them will allow you to deal with matters quickly.
Enlist Young People to Lead
As youth ministry goes online there is an opportunity for different young people to come to the fore as “leaders”. Some of your young people are likely to be way ahead of you on the use of technology. Maybe there are some who can take the initiative in what you do online? Encourage others to take on pastoral roles, caring for one another and keeping in touch. Listen to their ideas for connecting and reaching out to friends.
Games and fun together are a part of most youth programmes. While you can’t meet together to do this there are lots of things you can do together online that are fun and help pass the time while building stronger connections. Ask the young people to research and contribute ideas. There are no shortage of resources online.
The current situation places limitations on what we can do but it also creates opportunities. Your young people’s friends now have more time on their hands and can join in your activities with the click of a mouse! Discuss together ways to make this happen.
Explore Online Resources
At times like this the internet is our friend! Check out the CCCNZ facebook group for youth pastors and key volunteers and find support and ideas. Use Google to research ideas for connecting with young people. Don’t try to do more than you’re able but aim to do a few things really well. Contact us if you need help: firstname.lastname@example.org