Youth Ministry – Rebuilding After COVID, Part 2
We talked in Part 1 about the importance of following the Greatest Commandment. When you’re ready to reopen (or starting new anywhere really), make sure that God is at the very foundation of all that you do.
What’s next? You’re still probably wondering what programs to use, curriculum to purchase, events to attend, but I still want to encourage you to slow down: It’s a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. Before answering the questions on what you should be doing, you need to first learn more about who you’re leading and serving. Let’s remain ‘marathon-minded’.
So before having all the answers for the programs, curriculum, and events, remember this: You can’t lead those you don’t love. Relationships need to be built before lessons can be taught (effectively). Over the course of my time in youth ministry, I’ve learned that what we do outside of church heavily impacts how they respond in church. As we rebuild in youth ministry, students have dealt with a wide variety of issues over this last year (we all have). We need to be aware of that as we move forward and rebuild these relationships.
So what are the best ways we can do just that?
3 things you need to do as you rebuild youth ministry
1. Start praying for your youth group
There’s power in prayer. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16 (NIV). I’d encourage you to write out all their names and start praying for their hearts to be molded and shaped by the love of Jesus. Pray that God will give you wisdom on getting to know them all better. Remember from Part 1? “You don’t start with the walls, you start with the foundation.” Let’s keep going back to the foundation and giving it all to God.
2. Make connections based on their interests
I love how Paul puts it: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” – 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV). Get in their world, what are some things they enjoy? What’s their favorite food, interests, hobbies? Do they like sports or video games? How can you use what they enjoy to connect with them outside the 4 walls of the church? Can you take them out to get a meal, just to hang out and chat? As you keep taking up on opportunities like this, it will exponentially change how they respond in church.
3. Make connections with their families
Way too often I see a MAJOR missed opportunity in youth ministry: getting to know the parents. Youth ministry isn’t just a drop-off site for you to babysit; it’s an opportunity to be engrained in their everyday lives. Don’t miss this opportunity! Invite them to the activities you’re doing with their kids, if possible. Ask how you can partner with them. The response has been overwhelmingly positive in my experience.
Several years back, there was a student that started attending because of a fun event. She came back to regularly attend. Her little brother was hospitalized, and I showed up. Their parents were heavily impacted that day. That next Sunday the parents (who never attended before) showed up for services. Guess what they’re doing now? They’re youth sponsors! They’re joining for trips and serving any way they can. You never know what a simple connection outside of the church can do. As you rebuild in youth ministry, remember to be intentional about building relationships.
Next blog in the “Youth Ministry – Rebuilding after Covid” series: Finding your purpose and knowing your strengths.
About the Author
Shane Thacker is the Youth Pastor at Inola Christian Church in Oklahoma. His mission is to develop content that points people to Jesus. He believes that if leaders gravitate to the right foundation for a healthy, sustainable ministry, it’s going to produce healthy leaders and healthy churches, leading people in their community effectively and in unity for… Read More