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Hybrid Youth Ministry is Here to Stay

May 11, 2021 | Administration, Blog, Planning, Student Ministry, Vision & Mission, Youth Ministry

The Old Normal

Everything was fine at the beginning of the year. It was the old normal. Each week more than fifty students wandered into our youth center every Wednesday. They fellowship and played games before we circled up and prayed for dinner. Students lined up for pizza then sat down and laughed with friends, talked about their day and shared a meal together. Then we played some games, and were off to student led worship service where I gave a message. We finished up our nights dividing into small groups scattered across the campus.

That was the old normal. Then came Covid-19. Then came quarantine.

During quarantine everyone was scrambling to figure out how to do ministry in this new world. We could not meet in person so we tried anything we could to stay connected to students. We held our Wednesday night youth via zoom. We had game nights online. We utilized social media more. We reached out to students at their homes. It was not normal. It was disruption and then grasping at straws to find something to hold on to.

Nothing was the same. Everything was different. How we did ministry had changed. How we measured success and effectiveness had changed.

The New Normal

What is the new normal? If you look at almost any other area of our lives we are living in a hybrid mix of online and in person.

You can order your groceries online and then pick them up in person. You can watch movie previews online and then go to the theater and watch the movie in person.

Think of how you stay connected with your friends. Chances are you spend time with them when you can, but you also follow them on instagram and engage with them on Facebook.

Everything we do contains this mix of online and in person engagement.

I believe that as we emerge from the various degrees of coronavirus and social distancing that we will have to be a mix of online and in person with our youth ministry programming.

Our Hybrid Plan

Content

First of all every week we are creating a short twenty minute YouTube web show called Impact Youth Online and it consists of an introduction, announcements, a 7-10 minute message and a worship song. This show will be posted onto youtube every Wednesday at 6:30pm.

We have set up an area of our youth center with a background and light kit. We purchased a camera specifically to record this web show.

Every Sunday we record the message and any other elements. Students then edit the show and then schedule it to premier on our Youtube channel.

We are encourage all of our students to watch the Impact Youth Online show when it is posted. We include some interactive elements, chances to win some prizes and other engaging things each week.

We utilize the Events page of the Bible App to post all of our small group scriptures and questions. This way everyone can have the small group material right on their phone, tablet or computer.

Our small group aspect will then happen in one of several ways depending on our current social distancing restrictions.

Small Group Phase 1

Our first plan is to have small groups meet virtually online using zoom, FaceTime or another video conferencing program. After watching the small group leader would then lead the discussion online.

A second option is for a small group to meet at someone’s home. If this is the case then they can watch the show together and then have their small group time.

We are also aware that not everyone will be able to log on at the posted time and to participate. If this is the case for a small group they can choose to meet at a later time that works better for them.

Small Group Phase 2

As soon as possible we would like to move to meeting at the church. When this happens we will still meet only in small groups.

Each small group would have an assigned location, preferably outside. Each would have a laptop or iPad to watch the Impact Youth Live video and then the leaders would facilitate their discussion.

We are asking small group leaders to FaceTime in any students who wish to still be part of their small group but cannot attend for various reasons.

In addition we will still host several online zoom small groups for those who want to participate in that format.

Moving Forward

There is a chance this is all temporary. Several months from now we will wake up and the virus will be gone, and everything will be back to “normal.” However, I do not feel that will be the case. Nor should it be. I think that ministry has needed to move to a hybrid digital and in person model for a long time. Covid-19 has just sped up the inevitable. I think that the churches and student ministries of the future are those who embrace the digital, while still focusing on connecting with students in person.

What do you think? I’d love for you to leave a comment and let us know.

 

This article was originally posted on umylead.com

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