Dear Youth Ministry Leader,
The last five months have been unlike any other challenge you’ve faced in your ministry. No lock-in mishap, texting disaster, confirmation fail, or youth group catastrophe could compare to what you’ve faced with the global pandemic, quarantined families, virtual schooling, activity cancellations, anti-racism uprisings, political discord, and whatever local challenges are part of your context.
At Sparkhouse, we’re reminded of the need for deep empathy, a core principle of the human-centered design approach we’ve used to develop every Sparkhouse resource in our catalog. We want you to know we are feeling deep empathy for you . . .
. . . because the kids and families you serve are suffering in ways seen and unseen.
. . . because you haven’t been able to minister to youth and families in the ways that have always worked before—showing up to be physically present, giving hugs, and spending time together doing lively and lifegiving things, whether that’s offering whole-body prayers or playing zany games.
. . . because you are facing your own challenges in balancing ministry with all the other parts of your life.
. . . because you and/or your loved ones may be facing physical and mental health challenges related to COVID-19 or other causes.
. . . because you may be wondering whether your congregation will continue to fund youth ministry.
. . . because you’ve lost touch with some of the youth at your church and you wonder if they’ll ever come back.
. . . because it is hard to imagine how and when things will get better.
We want you to know that we see you.
We affirm all the ways you have been figuring out how to do ministry with youth in this time.
And we praise the ways that you and other youth leaders have always been at the forefront of change, innovation, and new practices in the church. Young people have very acute antennae (and low tolerance) for “we’ve always done it this way before” syndrome. We know that you have already been using many of the digital tools that others in the church and world are just starting to rely on for connection and community-building. Keep up your good work!
Now you are staring down the month of September, the time when churches have traditionally kicked off their ministry plan for the year. We want to help, and we hope that you will find us a trustworthy, relevant partner during this season of ministry.
When we created Sparkhouse resources for youth, we never imagined that leaders would need to plan lessons in remote formats. We know that some parts of our curriculum don’t adapt as well for virtual learning, but we hope you’ll see ways that you can use our leader material, videos, and student resources in engaging, innovative ways.
At the bottom of this entry, we’ve included links to posts about adapting each of our youth curriculum. You can share feedback on our Facebook page and check out helpful blog entries about copyright, planning youth ministry during this time, and ministering to LGBTQ youth.
As you head into the final weeks of summer and gear up for confirmation and youth ministry in the time of a pandemic, know that your ministry partners at Sparkhouse see you, empathize with you, and want to support you with resources that proclaim the Good News amidst such uncertain times.
We thank God for you!
The Sparkhouse Team
Here are guides we have put together for using each of our curricula remotely: