During the various phases of the pandemic, our approach to ministry has had to adapt dramatically. In these challenging times, youth leaders can easily feel like we are falling short. Measuring ministry is a tricky topic, as it is difficult to assess spiritual growth and success in mission. Attendance alone does not account for meaningful moments and transformed lives.
What are the life signs of a pandemic-friendly youth ministry? Here are six gauges to guide your ministry with young people during these shifting times:
1. Safety Sensor
Put safety first: be a leader in your faith community in promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. A healthy youth ministry considers the needs of all members of the community, includes everyone, and protects the most vulnerable. Encourage volunteer leaders and young people to follow guidelines for safe social interaction.
2. Connection Compass
Your building may be closed, but the church is open for business as usual, loving and serving our neighbors. Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t be relationally close. Foster connections between peers, among families and social circles, and with God. Aim for warm relationships over cool programming.
3. Emotional Barometer
Keep your finger on the pulse of the range of emotions teens are experiencing in response to the pandemic. Allow outlets for feelings of uncertainty, frustration, anger, grief, and fear. Even in the midst of all of the change, one ministry initiative remains the same: listen.
4. Adaptability Analysis
In this time when the whole world is changing, your youth ministry should look different, too. Be flexible and quick to try something new, experiment with various tools and ideas, and invite your teens into leadership in a fresh way. Rather than hitting pause, let your ministry morph. Consider the possibilities this time in history brings.
5. Mission Meter
Stay focused on your mission. Crack open any of the gospels to find examples of Jesus as a leader of people through troubling and changing times.
6. Grace Gauge
Let’s face it, there’s always more work to do and the emotional load during these days can feel especially heavy. As you navigate these unusual days, generously give grace, especially to yourself.
Shifting global circumstances allow us to reevaluate how we measure ministry. Trade in the traditional charts and ratios for fresh assessments based on what really matters—transforming lives with the unconditional love of God.