Has social distancing put a strain on your youth ministry?
I feel you!! My husband is the youth pastor at our church, and we've found we've had to get creative lately to keep momentum in our youth program.
The culture in our church has always been youth night every Friday night -- no matter what! We play games often and occasionally have devotionals.
With social distancing in effect, we know our youth are going to be struggling with staying connected. This is a time in their lives that would normally be largely centered around social activities! It's our job as their youth leaders to keep them connected and encouraged.
With our youth group, we were able to have a great time together recently using Zoom conference call. We have around 60-70 young people in our youth group. Not all of them tuned in, but many did. Our first Zoom call this past Friday was a huge trial-and-error run, but it turned out to be so fun! We even gave our youth meeting the name Quarenteen! :D
To use Zoom for a conference-call-type meeting, you'll need to download the Zoom app -- or if you're on a computer, pull up zoom.us and create an account. Schedule the meeting for the ideal time for your group. The meeting will show an ID number, and Zoom will also generate a link for the meeting. Make sure you text or email this link to all your young people!
At our first meeting, we did run into an issue where the link we sent out didn't match the exact meeting ID --so at first, for a few minutes, we were logged into the wrong meeting! So watch out for that when you send the meeting ID link to your young people.
There are several ideas you can do with your group.
One is doing a meet/chat. This works great for smaller groups.
Of course, a popular option is doing a devotional-type meeting.
We also found a great app that will allow you to run games in your meeting, and everyone can participate. We did a little of all of the above.
Last Friday, we had about 25 devices logged in. This is chaos if everyone's microphone is on! So first: have everyone mute their microphone. We made it a rule that everyone had to have their video on. This allowed more interaction. Everyone chatted through the chatbox for the first few minutes. Then we played games with prizes! We offered gift cards to our local coffee shops for the winners. This was an incentive for them to participate.
The app we used to play the games is called Sidekick. You'll have to do some playing around and testing with it! We found the best way for our size group was to "share the screen" during the game and have our young people respond via their camera or through the chatbox.
There are several games available. My favorite was a spin-the-wheel game called House Hunt. It listed several things for you to find in your house. The first person to show an item got a point. The person with the most points won a gift card!
After this, I encouraged our young people to find a hobby during the downtime of social distancing. This is the perfect opportunity to learn instruments, do DIY projects, learn how to sew, hike, cook, write songs, practice photography, etc.
My husband ended our Quarenteen youth night with a devotional to encourage the kids. We encouraged them to keep praying, reading the bible, fasting, and staying prayed-through! At the end of the night, we felt it had been successful.
If you work with youth groups or fellowship groups of some sort, I hope this has been helpful to you! I know this isn't my normal genre of blog post, but I believe it's important to get resources out ASAP to help keep our young people engaged during this season. If you have any questions, drop me a comment on Instagram or Facebook; I'd love to help out!
Other helpful resources: