I enjoy writing blog posts that encourage and give insights into student ministry while we point students and their families to Jesus. One of the things that I do is I keep a list of posts that I might work on at a later date. And currently, that list is about a dozen ideas long, but nowhere on that list is anything related to the pandemic that we are experiencing right now. This was definitely something that I didn’t anticipate writing, even when the first reports at the end of 2019 from China came out. But the more the story grew, the more and more I found myself wondering when and if it would impact the world that I live in.
In February I posted on a 15,000 person youth ministry Facebook page asking the question of “how this had impacted anyone who had spring break mission trips” and I got 20 plus responses with 75% of them determined that nothing had changed or even making the question that I asked sound pointless. A few offered concerns or named a change of plans.
In the meantime, I’ve observed:
- People who are hoarding goods and some that are even self-isolating themselves
- I’ve seen churches, especially on the west coast, impacted by having to cancel much of their mid-week programming
- I’ve continued to hear of more schools and colleges that are closing through spring break
- I’ve been front and center on discussions around the Borderless Midwest Mexico Mission Trip
- I’ve seen how one church coming to my lock-in on 3/13 seems to be losing students to it because their parents are backing out
- At our church we’ve canceled an estate seminar because the presenter is unable to attend, and we are in process of defining other policies and cancelations
I am certain that you have seen many things like this.
In the midst of all of this there are four things that have stood out to me as lessons for us. They are:
- We get to model amidst this mess —- faith to our students and their families.
- This is another opportunity for us to pray.
- In the midst of this mess —– we need to work with parents, our elders and others in leadership and we need to resist the urge to think that we know more than them or to belittle their processing of this.
- And piggybacking off of that last one, we need to not make light of people’s concerns. I am convinced that all that does is increase the level of fear.
As you consider actions to take or not to take, I’d like to suggest the following as some questions/discussion points to consider:
- If we are going to continue with an event, what safety precautions are we going to add?
- Will we add extra cleaning supplies while limiting other interactions?
- Will we eliminate shared meals or increase meal preparation and serving strategies?
- In our pastors Facebook page, we’ve discussed changing the location of the offering plate and how communion is distributed.
- What actions have our local governments asked us to take?
- I know on the west coast they have asked for crowds over 250 not to assemble
- What events are not essential at this time? What events can be rescheduled?
- What events are nonnegotiable?
- What levels of leadership have been tasked with making these decisions? What other experts can you pull into these conversations?
If you have a question/step to suggest here please pass that along to me.
I’d like to offer some ideas as you take actions:
- If you find yourself canceling youth group, consider replacing it with an online youth group (which, yes, is not as ideal but by doing it —- it communicates that student ministry matters even now). If you do that, here are a few tools worth looking at:
- Using ZOOM or Google Hangouts or some other digital platform to host your meeting
- Get some digital games that can be played by everyone. Consider going to this link for more ideas related to that: https://blog.downloadyouthministry.com/how-to-hold-youth-group-if-you-have-to-cancel-for-coronavirus-covid-19/
- Communicate plans as best as possible while seeking to build trust with your families
- Scale back your plans as much as needed
- Seize the opportunity and teach on related topics
- Utilize any downtime for planning, prep and prayer
Two Scriptures Worth Considering
- Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
CLBA Zoom Call – Please note that on March 18th there will be a CLBA-sponsored ZOOM call for any leader to attend to give insights to them. Stay tuned for more info.
If you have any additional feedback for this post, please send me an email at [email protected] and I will get that added to this post.