Effective Youth Ministry During the Coronavirus… | UMC YoungPeople
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March 2020

Effective Youth Ministry During the Coronavirus Outbreak

By Jeremy Steele

As the entire world takes measures to limit the spread of this modern pandemic, the youth in your church may be the last thing on the minds of your community leaders. Though your church may choose not to meet and may cancel your in-person youth gatherings (or not), there are a range of options for you to continue in ministry with your students.

Texting devotions

Consider using a service like Remind.com (free) to allow students to sign up for a text list where you can send out reassuring thoughts and devotions to students who may be stuck at home for a while. It may seem simple, but in a world that is gripped with fear, the familiar voice of a youth worker who cares encouraging them with the words of Isaiah 43:1 (Do not be afraid) can be like a cup of cool water in the desert.

If you enable the response function in Remind it will allow students to respond to you and offer their prayers and concerns without responding to the entire group. The ability to push out a group wide text without having group-wide responses can take a group text from oppressive to genuinely helpful.

Create a Playlist Youth Gathering

You may not be able to gather physically, but you could offer a worship experience for youth to participate in online at their own convenience. Start by recording a simple message or devotion of your own and uploading it to YouTube. Once you have the message finished, the rest is a snap. Pull up some of your group’s favorite worship songs and create a playlist with a couple of songs, followed by your message and then another song or two. Once the playlist is complete, share the link and invite students to engage in your virtual youth worship service.

Get Face-to-Face on Zoom

Though you might not be able to be in the same room, invite everyone into a video conference call using a service like Zoom. Though you can pay for an account, Zoom is free for 100 participants and 40 minutes which is sure to serve almost every youth group’s needs. Simply sign up for a free account and let everyone dial in or connect using their webcam or smartphone and check in face-to-face.

Use All of the Above when Kids Can’t Come

Your church may not cancel youth group because students are at a lower risk or because your community has avoided confirmed cases. When that happens, remember that you will have students whose parents will keep them out anyway. Don’t let them fall through the cracks. Whenever possible use texting, Zoom, or YouTube to let them participate from home.

Whether it’s Remind or Zoom or something else, we don’t have to let in-person cancellation hamper our ministry. Keep ministering. Keep checking on your students, and for heavens sake wash your hands!

When he's not playing with his four children with his wonderful wife, Jeremy is the associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, CA. Jeremy has spent over twenty years working in youth and children's ministry and continues to train children and youth workers as well as writing and speaking extensively in that field. His most recent book is the "All the Best Questions." You can find a list of all his books, articles, and resources for churches at JeremyWords.com.