When the news about COVID-19 began influencing large gatherings, all churches scrambled to figure out what to do when they couldn’t gather in person on Sunday.
That realization quickly extended to other ministries too. We need to consider how we can continue not just our adults services, but also our students. And we need to create new opportunities for students to stay connected.
Students' lives have been significantly affected during this time – nearly every environment in their lives has been disrupted. School, friends, work, and church are all completely different than they were a few weeks ago. If this is tough for you as an adult, it is exponentially more difficult for a teenager.
It’s important to provide a sense of normalcy.
Here’s Kenny Cambpell, co-founder of Stuff You Can Use: A Youth Ministry Community…
To be honest, “adult” church is actually way ahead of kids/student ministry when it comes to live streaming. 99.9% of youth ministries haven’t started live streaming until this week whereas adults have been doing it for years.
Kids/youth ministry online is new. There’s some people like Tj McConahay who have been killing it on social media (TJ specifically is great with TikTok), but those are more like bonus material. Doing kids/youth ministry 100% remote is new territory.
But we’ll be keeping our eyes open and paying attention to what people are doing in the Stuff You Can Use Facebook groups, and sharing all the new ideas that will be popping up in the coming weeks.
Examples of Live Streaming in Student Ministry
Check out the insanely practical ways that churches are using technology for student ministry.
Most of the livestreaming advice that applies to church services will also apply to your student ministry. But there are a few student-specific pointers that will help you serve students better.
- Doug Fields, co-founder of Download Youth Ministry and the Youth Pastor at Mariner’s Church shared a helpful video about how they are responding with a YouTube Live service.
- Addison Roberts has a great tutorial video on how to get started with live streaming.
- Josh McLemore, Student Pastor at Douglas First UMC in Douglas, Georgia and one of the trailers of the Grow Curriculum, put together a simple guide for going live with Zoom, one of the tools we’re recommending to all churches during this time.
Other live streaming options for students include…
- Google Hangouts
- Instagram Live
Staying Connected to Students
If your student ministry has small groups, it’s not a huge jump to shift them online meeting using a tool like Zoom.
It’s one of the more popular video call solutions and has been helping people work remotely for years. But it’s also a great tool for online small groups.
Right now, they are extending their free trial, essentially removing their 40-minute limit. One of the cool features of Zoom is breakout rooms. You could have a large group teaching time and then split students up into their respective small groups.
Relationships, more than programming, have always been the driving force behind student ministry. As great as it is to provide an online service or digital gathering, it might be more important to stay connected throughout the week. This just might be one place where student ministry is ahead of adult ministry.
Brian Lawson shares some great ideas….
- Send students personalized text messages. Let them know that you have not forgotten them and that even when they feel alone, they are never alone.
- Call your students! Yes, call them. It seems weird, and it may be awkward, but give them a good old fashioned phone call.
- Use Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom to video call several students at once. Most of these services are free and can have 10+ people on the call. Why not play a game with them? Pull out the classic games and conversation starters like Two Truths and A Lie, Never Have I Ever, or Good Thing, Bad Thing.
GroupMe is a great way to stay connected to students outside of events, even during times when you can gather. Many students already use this for school, sports, or church.
Cameron Pedicord and Jonathan McKee have some great ideas for how you can help students grow spiritually and stay connected during this time.
Here are some good ones:
- Post a short devotional video every day. Make it fun. Give a tour of your house. Show them that you actually have toilet paper.
- Jump on Zoom or some other meeting app and take a small group through one of our free YouTube discussions (yes, these each have small group questions and scripture) or free Music Discussions (yes, Billie Eilish, Bieber, Mercy Me, For King & Country… they all have scripture and small group questions, and they’re all free).
- Challenge your students to read the Bible in a month. Send a group text with comments about what you read.
- Have your musically inclined students spend time writing new worship songs. Post them to YouTube and share them with the group.
- Video Game Tournament. Ask your students… they’ll tell you how.
- Short Story or Book writing competition. Seriously. They have nothing else to do. How much Netflix can one student actually watch?
- Binge watch a Netflix, Disney+, Hulu show and discuss. Did you know we have a Bible discussion posted for every single episode of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things?
- Coffee Time: Everyone brews a cup of coffee at home and hangs out virtually. Video conference and share your secret coffee recipe.
More than ever, students need caring adults to lean in and facilitate connections. Students already live their lives digitally, but this is a new opportunity for the church, and a new opportunity for your ministry.