Working with young people in uncertain times
Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:4-5
The past year has brought many challenges – not least working out how to can stay connected with young people in the church and reach others. It is said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and that has certainly been the case in relation to youth ministry. Youth leaders having been dropping activity packs off at people’s doors and groups have been meeting online. Matt Ashpole from the Identity Youth Project, who work with St Mary Magdalene, Gorleston said:
‘’Online content is something we had never produced before. However, to date we have produced 183 videos which are watched by young people, used by other youth leaders and even shown at a youth conference. This is something we will continue to develop and utilise going forward.”
Finding ways to be creative online has been a recurring theme when speaking with youth leaders, as well as working with others – where geography is not so much of an issue! Matthew Schwarzenberger from Fountain of Life Church, Ashill said: “We have recently started an online gaming group with our local Youth for Christ centre. We chat together on a video call while playing free-to-play games like Rocket League or Fortnite. It is a great space for young people to hang out with each other and invite their friends, as well as an opportunity for us to build relationships with young people we wouldn’t normally be in contact with. We hope to use this as a launchpad to invite new young people along to our discipleship groups or run Youth Alpha with them.”
Although meeting online has been great, we must remember it doesn’t work for everyone and, in many ways, can’t replace face-toface interaction. Claire Williams from Walsingham Benefice summarises this well when she says:
“We were very encouraged when we re-started our youth group face to face for four weeks (before the second lockdown in November), by the response both from young people and from parents. Online youth work has been, and continues to be, useful and a lifeline to so many. However, the relational and evangelistic opportunities which face-to-face work offers can’t be replaced.”
So be encouraged to try new things, but also work at building face-to-face work in whatever way you can and take every opportunity to proclaim the Gospel clearly to young people.
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