Youth Ministry in Pandemic Times (and Beyond)

Youth Ministry in Pandemic Times (and Beyond)

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I have been hearing the laments of many youth ministry leaders about the loss of connection with their teens, having been away from our church buildings for almost a year. Quite frankly, I have been hearing this lament about youth ministry in general for many years, even without a pandemic. The adolescent years provide a challenge to the church, particularly when we try to use ministry models that were created for a different era and a different teen culture.

The youth ministry programs that are finding success these days are those that have shifted (or have maintained) their focus on the interpersonal relationships they have with their teens. And the ones that are thriving are those that feature a variety of such relationships — with and among the teens themselves, with their youth ministry leaders, and especially with the other generations in the congregation. It is clear that, especially in this time, regular contact and check-ins, as well as congregational rituals, mission work, and having fun together, are strengthening the bonds these teens need for their spiritual growth.

Some congregations may need to use this time to re-work their youth ministries. Some may choose this time to let their programs lie fallow and resurrect them when on-site ministries begin again. Some may determine that a concerted effort for reaching out to teens and their families is what is needed right now. All of them will need to examine the types of relationships currently in existence with their teens and make the process of enhancing these connections a priority for moving forward.

The Southern New England Conference has two upcoming opportunities to assist youth ministry leaders, pastors, and congregational leaders in planning for effective youth ministry in their congregations:

Networking in Youth Ministry — Resources & Social Media
with Debby Kirk, SNEUCC staff, and Lauren Dube of First Church of Christ Congregational in West Hartford, CT
February 20, 2021

and

Youth Ministry 101 — Practices for a Sustainable Ministry
led by Becky and Rev. Dave Stambaugh of Green Farms Church in Westport, CT
February 27, 2021

Both opportunities will include practical resources and activity recommendations to implement immediately with your teens. There will also be emphases on visioning for the future, theoretical reflections, mission focuses for your programming, and biblical grounding for ministering to and with teens. What are the best social media platforms to use? Are there curriculum resources available for adapting to Zoom experiences? What can we do for our Zoomed-out teens? These workshops/classes will allow participants to engage these questions and many more with peers, colleagues, and leaders in youth ministry.

Visit our Faith Formation Leadership Program webpage for more information and to register. The classes are open to anyone for this one-time offering, but also can be part of a certificate in Youth Ministries, Faith Formation Ministries, or both. Please reach out to me with any questions you may have.

From Zoom games to prayer, from virtual service projects to online resources — the goals for youth ministry remain the same as they always have — walking alongside our teens on their spiritual journeys. Let’s join together to assist teens in navigating their spiritual growth both inside and outside of our faith communities.

Author

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Debbie Gline Allen

Debbie Gline Allen serves as a Minister of Faith Formation on the Conference’s Faith Formation Ministry Team. She also serves as the administrator of the SNEUCC Faith Formation Leadership Program.  Her passion for ministry is with children and family...

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