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 when you gather; don’t assume everyone can come together.
Determine what is the best way you can serve your youth and their friends. This could include:
- Understanding who you expect to gather.
- Asking your youth how many of their friends are also interested in in-person gatherings.
- Investigating reasons why certain groups want to gather.
With that, determine what kind of space, availability and personnel you need to facilitate those gatherings.
During your first meeting consider having your core students re-gather and, together, set an understanding of the intent of upcoming gatherings. This can include prayerfully considering their various friend groups who gather in different locations for different purposes. For example, some may want to participate in socially distanced active experiences, while others may want to hang out around campfires. Still others may prefer gaming together or watching movies in groups.
As a core group, discern the best way to serve their various groups of friends and potentially other groups (i.e., new friends/acquaintances) as restrictions allow. While you may not be able to gather everyone together every time, having a clear understanding of who a gathering is intended for and who the priority invitees are will give a deeper purpose to your gatherings.
From there, you can determine the best way(s) to accommodate those youth, their friends, and possibly other youth in the neighbourhood. This could include:
- Have different “satellite” gathering places either simultaneously or at different times.
- If you can only meet at specific times in the week, alternate between different small groups or “pockets of friends” meetings.
- Supplement with different online engagements, whether it’s synchronous gatherings via video conference platforms or asynchronously in group chats.
These opportunities to physically re-gather are not just for your own youth; but for the community your church serves within.