The pandemic has led to the formation of new habits and expectations. Some have voiced the concern that some youth have become too comfortable with online interactions and just stay there with their cameras turned off; they believe there should be a greater “nudge” to in-person gatherings. This is a consumer-based point of view. While some of these concerns are valid, we must ask some deeper questions because there may
Long-Term Consideration 1: There are foundational changes in the ways the youth ministry operates that include different channels of discipleship.
The pandemic showed our primary (in many cases sole) dependency on synchronous in-person gatherings. Some ministries were able to pivot to other ways of helping youth in their faith development; others stalled and were unable to adapt. It’s clear that we need to consider other ways of engaging in discipleship to allow for greater adaptability, whether it’s for individual or societal reasons. There are 4 channels for consideration: 1:1 connections Synchronous onsite / in-person
Youth ministry continues to evolve from doing things FOR youth to doing things WITH youth. That shared experience in creating something together is more life-changing than any program we can create. One youth pastor shared how they began creating baking YouTube videos. Now, via Zoom, some of their youth group bake together. While it usually takes much longer than doing it by herself, they share how the youth are impacted in several ways: in creating shared memories, developing
Short-Term Consideration 3: Take the time now to discern the best way(s) to serve your youth and community and have the necessary resources in place.
A couple of caveats with this: Do not presume your youth ministry mandate/objectives/methods are exactly the same as they were pre-pandemic. In some cases, you may have youth who did connect with your youth ministry in the last few months who are not geographically able to meet in-person. Your strategies may need to be revised in light of new factors. Your youth ministry is not meant to be all-encompassing. Whether through CBOQ or other networks, you are part
Short-Term Consideration 2: In your area, the potential of churches reopening before some other businesses/institutions allows you to be a favoured place for in-person social interaction.
One of our youth pastors has commented that there is a good chance churches will be able to have larger group gatherings than most other businesses/institutions. Assuming you are appropriately fulfilling your civic and social due diligence, you may want to consider ways to provide space for both youth who are regularly connected to your group and others who are not. There likely will be numerical or proportional restrictions to consider