The past month at youth group has been rough. Attendance has been lower than normal. The teens who were present seemed to have a hard time focusing or caring about the lessons. I started to worry the youth group I worked hard to build in the past four years was starting to slowly crumble. Fast-forward a few weeks to the present day. I recently had a digital youth group meeting through Zoom ( a first for me) and my heart is soaring! Teens not only showed up, but they came with questions and inspiring words of wisdom for their peers during this crisis. I never imagined it would take a world pandemic to get teens to show up and care this much. It blows my mind that not being able to physically meet together has created more connection and deeper discussion. This crisis is devastating, but our communal grieving has brought us together in ways I never dreamed of.
Doing youth group digitally forced me to keep the lesson simple yet focused. We read Colossians 1:15-20 and talked about what it means to trust God is in control when the world feels out of control. Teens shared openly and honestly more than usual about where they were at in their relationship with God. They asked big questions about faith and life that I haven’t heard them articulate before. We didn’t even come close to answering these questions, but my prayer is teens will grow in their thirst for holiness and truth.
Now is the time more than ever to pour into the lives of young people. Throughout my career as a Youth Pastor, my biggest dilemma for ministering to teens is their busyness. Their schedules are normally packed full of activities, homework, and so forth. It seems like every year teens just get busier than the year before. Typically, church is the first thing that gets moved to the bottom of their list of priorities.
So here we are now experiencing a time when nearly everything is canceled for people. The problem of busyness is wiped away. Teens are eager to connect and looking for things to do. They are hungry to understand who God is in the midst of this world chaos. Now is our time to really pour into young people, giving them space to process all that is happening.
I encourage youth workers to do everything they can to connect digitally with teens. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make lessons super simple and yet focused if you are using digital group chats. You can also send out group texts and ask for prayer requests. Make weekly 2-5 minute devotional videos on youth group social media pages. Send out weekly bible verses. Especially make sure to check in with students who are seniors during this time. They are carrying loads of grief over their final events, sport’s seasons, concerts, graduation, parties, and so forth being canceled. These are just a few ideas that don’t have to be complicated or take too much time.
More than ever before, now is the time to be the light and love of God to young people. Reach out, and encourage them to be the light and love to others.