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The Fear of Cancelling

Youth Ministry and the Coronavirus

By Jesse Criss March 12, 2020

As the cases of COVID-19 continue to grow around the world, things are probably going to get worse before they get better. From a Student Ministries perspective, one major question will come or has already come: do we cancel Student Ministries?

Now I can’t tell you what to do, and you need to look to your church, denomination, and local government for guidance on what you need to do. My concern is what happens next because I know you—I was in Student Ministries for 20 years I know how Youth Pastors and Leaders think. So I want to talk about a few things that will go through your mind over the next little while.

#1 – Will the students come back?

We all know students can be a fickle group of people to work with. They come and go and are not always in charge of their world. So even if your group stays open or shuts down for a few weeks there is no guarantee that everyone is going to come back….and that is okay.

It’s okay because you are not defined by your attendance. That should not be where you find value and worth. Jesus needs to be your center and where you find you’re worth. So if you have to cancel youth group for a few weeks or even a few months, remember who the source of your worth is. (Hint: it’s Jesus.)

#2 – It’s time to get creative

We have a tendency to do the same thing because we have always done the same things. We meet at the same time and location and run the same programs sometimes out of habit more than anything else. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but moments like this are opportunities to lean into creativity.

For example, if small groups can’t physically meet at the church, why don’t you consider a virtual meet up using social media. Or jump on a live stream on your regular youth night and teach from home. Encourage personal devotional time at home and meet in digital spaces to share your discoveries.

All I’m saying is that ministry can still be happening; it might look different, and that is 100% okay. Maybe your creative spark will stick and be the start of something new as you go forward.

#3 – Be present in your world

If I was being 100% honest, the thought of being home, not being able to socialize or even being quarantined is the worst. But I also see the potential for this time to be a unique gift.

Our world is crazy and always running at a hundred miles an hour. Times like this, there’s reason to worry, but this moment can also force our world to slow down. For some that means sitting at home as a family for maybe the first time in a very long time. COVID-19 is scary, and I don’t want to make light of the situation, but what if we saw the cancelling of events as an opportunity to invest in those closest to us?

As more events get cancelled, schools get closed, and people get sent home, the more tempting it will be to be angry, to fight back against those around us.

All I’m hoping to do in this post is encourage you to maybe see an opportunity to trust Jesus, get creative, and be present in your world. When this season is over, and it will have an end, my prayer is that something you will have discovered in this time will carry forward and inform your future.

About the Author

Jesse Criss

Jesse Criss is the founder of Fresh Ministry Consulting, a ministry that exists to help pastors, leaders, and churches get the tools they need to impact students with the Gospel of Jesus. Jesse got his start in youth ministry at the age of 18 and now has more than 20 years of experience in youth ministry. His…  Read More