Social distancing. It’s all everyone is talking (and low-key panicking) about these days. And if you happen to be stressed-out about the effects of social distancing in student ministry, I’d like to ask you this: what if social distancing were a good thing? That said, I invite you to consider 3 reasons why social distancing in student ministry can be the spiritual wake-up call you need:
Social Distancing Teaches Us to Slow Down
Let’s start with some context: like most youth workers, I want to see youth cherish their relationship with Christ above all else. That said, I recently travelled overseas to consider a new partnership with a youth organisation. But upon returning to home, the Corona Police basically told me to stay home for the next 14 days. And you know what I’m learning from this forced quarantine?
To Slow Down.
Interestingly, on the plane back I listened to a podcast about the attributes of God. Some of his attributes (like sacrificial love, patience, gentleness, etc) are attributes that we should model to youth. But other attributes, like omnipresence, are skills that we will never possess. As youth workers, we may take pride in being continually busy. This pressure we put on ourselves can help us feel like we’re getting a lot done. But I think one reason why quarantine is so uncomfortable is because it forces us to slow down. Isolation forces us to be in only one place at a time. And to humbly admit that we have limitations and cannot be omnipresent. Social distancing teaches that despite our culture’s love of productivity, perhaps what a teen really needs is a humble servant-leader who knows how to be still and trust God.
Social Distancing is a Time for Reflection
Youth workers are great at multitasking and doing a whole lot; but when was the last time you stopped and asked why? When was the last time you reflected on why you’re doing so much? When did you last write a mission statement for your youth ministry and shared it with a prayer partner? I’m realising more and more the importance of not only slowing down but slowing down long enough to consider my purpose as a youth worker. Perhaps inner reflection, prayer and meditation are something you too can practice now that social distancing in youth ministry is a new reality in our lives.
Social Distancing is about sharing the Gospel
Wait a minute; what’s this idea about sharing the gospel? How can I equip youth to develop a real and deep relationship with Christ if I can’t even be in the same room as them?
That’s a great question! One that I believe the bible answers through the life of the apostle Paul. Although social distancing in student ministry is new for us, I think that if Paul was alive today, he would not be surprised by this challenge. You see, when Paul was boldly sharing the gospel, the Roman authorities eventually locked him up in jail. Not just for 14 days but for much longer periods of time.
And what was his reaction? How did Paul respond when unforeseen circumstances forced him to be away from the ones he loved and discipled?
He sent them letters!
Letters of hope. Letters of comfort. Letters clearly showing how to be a follower of Christ.
Scholars suspect that Paul wrote Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon during a time of imprisonment. Despite the isolation he faced, he used the resources available to him to equip others in following Christ.
One of the reasons Voke exists is to help you do the same. If church cancellations are a new reality for you, do not lose heart! Know that you can download the Voke app (on ios or Android) and invite a group of students to watch videos together in the app on the app. These free videos help answer questions about Jesus, the bible, suffering, and what it means to be a christian.
I love the way Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians. He recognises that despite the fact that isolation is something he has to live with everyday, he can still use this time to boldly proclaim the gospel. I invite you to use this time of social distancing in student ministry to slow down, reflect on your purpose and use Voke’s group feature to boldly share the hope that is found in Christ. Do so while remembering that the hope He offers is one that no pandemic or crisis can ever overcome!