One of the silver linings of the global pandemic is how it pushed pause on much of our programming for students. When COVID turned everything upside down and backward, it offered the unique opportunity to press reset on our ministry in the most wonderful ways. We could look ahead with purpose and answer root questions, like:
- What kind of adults do we want our students to be?
- How do we best set our students up for faithful lives?
- How can we strengthen our students’ relationships with God?
During a time in both history and the development stage of adolescence when independence reigns supreme, consider what might happen if we create a culture of healthy interdependence among students. What if, in a world that is full of broken relationships and poor examples of the function of family, we embrace our Biblical family tree and create a close-knit, accepting community that prompts students to a ministry with and for each other and the world?
Embrace the opportunity to intentionally root students in relationships: with God, with each other, with the world. Create an environment where students can learn and grow together.
- Connect the dots.
An interdependent community is inherently about what holds it together. Focus on guiding students through what makes each of them unique, but also how we are linked as a Christian community. When we connect with God, we connect with each other. Connect the dots between what God calls us to do, the passions that drive and fulfill us, and how the world needs us to serve.
- Value the ask.
An interdependent community needs each other. Encourage asking for help and asking questions. Question marks lead to deep dives, and often belly flops into more questions. As a leader, learn how to listen well and teach students this skill, especially without having all the answers. Find comfort in being silent together, establishing space for the wonder that comes with knowing God. Make it a goal for students’ first instincts to be to reach out when they feel low, out of balance, or alone.
- Keep Jesus at the center.
An interdependent community chases a common goal, standing behind a recognized leader or set of values. Align all that you do together behind the love, promises, and principles of Jesus.
Take a long view and create an interdependent community that stands together to experience the awe and wonder of God’s work in and through it.