October 11, 2021
Gathering Our Youth
We have all been on many Zoom services over the last year, either at our own church or other congregations near and far, and the observation is there were few to no youth on these Zoom services.
Further, in discussions about the challenges congregation face in the new virtual or hybrid (in-person and virtual) environment, the lack of youth presence is highlighted as a major issue that had not been adequately addressed.
Concerns were as follows:
- Sunday School Teachers and Youth Leaders need new or updated skillset for this virtual environment to better engage with the youth. They need resources to share issues confronted and receive best practices to move forward successfully.
- It was extremely difficult to gather up the youth. Reasons are that the church had not kept in touch during the pandemic. Many students were Zoom inundated from school activities so did not want to further engage. Others had aged out and the church had not acknowledged or celebrated their milestones. Lastly, parents were overwhelmed and did not want to add another obligation.
- As church leaders we had not given priority to how to integrate the youth in our Zoom services. Issues of stewardship, pastoral care, technology, outreach etc. were addressed but we had not adequately reimagined youth participation in our main Zoom services on Sunday mornings.
We applaud the Sunday School Teachers and Youth Leaders who have continued with creative activities online to keep their youth engaged in church. Their skillsets need to be shared more broadly across the church.
We are all aware of the mental health toll that our youth has endured during this last year. As church, our engagement, love, and commitment to the youth is critical to their well-being and development.