In this new age of distance learning, distance church-ing, distance… everything, how can youth pastors, youth group leaders, and really anyone keep participants engaged and connected? It’s easy for students to log onto virtual Bible studies or virtual group meetings but still be zoned out or distracted by other devices. We certainly do not have it all figured out, but have continued experimenting and collecting ideas we are hearing about…
Here’s a few ideas to get participants
excited and engaged despite the distance:
Youth-led youth group:
We all know that youth especially hate to be told what to do! They tend to be more committed to a project, event or the community when they are a part of the decision-making process and given autonomy to lead. Break students into smaller groups and have each group plan and run the youth group night.
Take a poll – ask your participants what they would like to learn, and what things they would like to engage in during your online meetings. Then gear your time incorporating what they are hungry for!
Do a Q&A – let your group come up with the questions they want you to answer… ahead of time or if you are ready for a little risk taking, on the spot!
Have your students collectively choose a list of items and assign point values to each of them. Students take one picture with as many items as possible and post to Instagram or other social media platforms. The more items, the more points. As a variation to this challenge, have students take a picture with a scripture that is meaningful to them during this time in various places around the house or neighborhood. Click here for a few examples.
Have each of your students choose and facilitate a game that can be played virtually. Some fun games ideas include:
- Pictionary: To play, divide your group into teams. Open this Pictionary Word Generator and choose a team to play first, as well as a designated drawer on that team. The drawer generates a word and has one minute to draw that word for their team to guess. If the team guesses the card correctly, they get a point.
- Name, Place, Book and Thing: To play, pick a letter. Each player has to list a Bible character’s name, a place in the Bible, a Book of the Bible, and a thing in the Bible that begins with that letter. The first person to type them into the online chat wins.
- Indoor Scavenger Hunt: Have students collectively create a list of things that are commonly found around the house. Whoever finds an item first wins that round.
Creating Personal Connections:
A youth pastor deeply desiring to stay connected with his students said that personally reaching out to individuals and their families throughout the week via social media, by phone or text has made a real difference in feeling connected and fostering relationships. Prior to the pandemic restrictions, he never thought to reach out to individual youth this way. One student said that during this time of social distancing he feels disconnected to everyone and God. Having his youth leader do a weekly check-in and reminding him that God is present has been important to him.
- Personally invite each participant to your group!
- Call each specific person by name and ask them questions while on the call.
- It is certainly not easy, but work hard to communicate as real, as authentic, and as passionately as you would in person.
- Model your message visually
- Ask participants to physically do something
Continue to cast vision, that your group exists not only to engage them personally but to equip them to go out and do the ministry (Ephesians 4:12) as everyday Kingdom Laborers (Matthew 9:37-38). Begin to discuss practical creative ways they can each begin to engage others in their everyday life. Then on the next call have them each share what they did and how it went.
Pull a “Sesame Street” – switch it up / create variety throughout as you share. Try not information dump. Tell stories. Share with passion and conviction. Share personal life stories. Do something funny. Be ok with a few “ADD” moments from participants but then bring it back to the topic. Keep it pointed and shorter rather than longer.
Give a clear timeline ahead with a beginning and ending time.
At Forge we want to encourage you and fuel your ministry. You have been chosen for such a time as this! If there is any way we can pray with you, please don’t hesitate to send your prayer requests to [email protected].
by Joyelle Naomi (Forge Itinerant Coordinator) and other Forge Team Members
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