What does youth work look like now as a result of the coronavirus?
Jamie Price, Limitless Pioneers Leader, shares his insights into leading through change as youth groups can not currently meet together.
How life has changed so much in the past few weeks. Just a few Monday evenings ago, I was with one of our pioneer youth groups in Hereford, bowling with the young people and leaders there. Now, in this past week we have had our first successful online youth group with the same young people. It was a fun experience, something that I highly recommend.
It's important to keep meeting together
At the start of this pandemic, before it became so serious, I was thinking ‘Do we really need to connect with young people online? Surely it can’t be that bad.’ How wrong I was!
It is becoming clear that we may not be able to meet face-to-face for at least a for the next few weeks, if not months. I think it will be invaluable to meet together in any way that we can for a few reasons.
It is so important at a time where people could feel increasingly disconnected, that we are meaningfully making a connection with people in our lives. For the young people we are working with, connecting meaningfully with them will be such a big thing, in a time when everything feels out of sync, let us be a consistent presence in the young people’s lives.
As mentioned before, being a consistent presence is really important. Usually, meet at 7pm on a Thursday evening? Have some sort of presence online at that time each week. It will serve as something consistent in a life that feels totally devoid of patterns of consistency.
There is a lot of uncertainty and fear around at the moment, so many questions are going around. How can we show care to the young people God has entrusted to us? Can we pray with them (or offer to do so)? Can we check in on them and see how they and their families are doing? The main question we need to be asking is, in what ways can we show care?
How do we do it?
It has been great to see youth workers all over the country come up with different ways in which we can stay connected whilst on lockdown. Here are a few different ways.
Zoom. This is a great way to connect with young people all together. It is a ‘conference call’ style meeting, where people can sign in and be a part of the group together. Best of all, for the most basic package, it is totally free. All you need to do is sign up, create an account, host a meeting, send out the meeting link/ID and then get your young people to download the free app, joining the meeting at the scheduled time.
There are small group options, screen sharing and live chat. As the host, you can also mute people for those moments where you maybe need to share with the whole group.
Remember, safeguarding these calls is super important, otherwise you can be open to anyone entering them. The important thing to do is password protect your meeting and don't send the meeting link out publicly. Please see the document below: Safeguarding online - A guide for youth leaders.
Zoom provide a great online help section, including live webinars, video and written help articles available here.
Do a live stream on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube. This is another way in which you could do your youth group ONLINE. A host can do a youth group online. You can have comments and interactions as you share together. Why not try a Q&A with the young people on these formats, where you answer questions that they have? This can all be done from your phone or tablet also, making it really easy and user friendly!
Upload videos. These could be challenges, devotions, thoughts, but think of creative ways to stay in touch with young people during this time. If you can do some sort of challenge video and get your young people to do the same challenge, this can be a great way to stay connected and have some fun at the same time!
Still unsure how to do it? Our friends at Youth for Christ have produced some great video tutorials which I highly recommend. These vary from how to use Zoom to safeguarding online. Click here and scroll down to the video turorials.
Some helpful youth work resources
We have filmed a few episodes of LIMITLESS TV a few months ago, but are fast-tracking the editing so that we can get these to you. The first episode is here, and there will be three more coming your way!
The team at Youthscape produce weekly podcasts, but last week did one entitled ‘Virtual Youth Work.’ Well worth a listen, and well worth checking out the Youthscape website, there are loads of helpful articles on there.
Maybe, you could think about starting (or continuing if you have already started) a Youth Alpha course online! Alpha gives some really helpful tips as to how this can be done. So check it out.
Stabal have produced some free videos, some interviews and worship sets in there. Rather than watching Netflix all day, why not point your young people towards these? You can maybe even watch and discuss them together.
Youth for Christ have always been fantastic at creating resources for leaders and young people a like. They have responded to the pandemic, by creating some online resources to do with your young people aimed at different age groups. They have a 6 week FREE trial on all resources as well.
I have recently finished the book ‘Dirty Glory’ by Pete Greig. In it, he talks about the need to keep pioneering in ministry, in reaching young people with the gospel. Here, at LIMITLESS, one of our values is that ‘Pioneering is our calling.’ In the days that we are in, pioneering, doing things differently, trying some things will be SO important. Remember the call is to make disciples, so let’s, even in lockdown, commit to reaching young people with the good news of Jesus.
Finally, take a listen to our Limitless Leadership Podcast episode about how do we do youth ministry when we can't meet? In this episode, Martin Saunders, the Deputy CEO at YouthScape and all-round youth ministry legend, shares his insight on a compelling episode of the Limitless Leadership Podcast.
Jamie Price - LIMITLESS Pioneers leader
Useful downloads to share
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