As a student leader, how have you felt during the past few months of uncertainty? Serving youth is challenging at any time but the realities surrounding our everyday experiences brought to the surface our well known struggle with fear and loss. In these struggles, we can easily lose sight of what God is doing, especially in a season of youth ministry uncertainty. But one thing is certain: God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Following Him means loving the students we work with even when the way we do youth ministry is changing.
That said, here are some ways to trust God and show his love to teens in the midst of youth ministry uncertainty.
Remember God’s Promises
It’s amazing that God made us to be connected and in the same way wants to be connected to us. So when it feels like it’s not worth it to connect anymore, remember that God cares for you. You can still cast your burdens on Him and remember that He sent His Son to prove how much He loves and wants to connect with you. Tell God when you feel unmotivated. Talk to Him about feeling overwhelmingly stressed for the past few months. As you do so, remember God’s promise to you: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)
Pray without ceasing
You can see Zoom meetings as another burdensome online meeting or as an opportunity to invest in and pray for your students. Helping a student through prayer and listening to them is part of leadership. So let a teen know that you genuinely care for them and want to pray for their needs. Make a list of their requests and share encouraging scriptures. Remember to call them to ask about results and answered prayers.
Continue Investing in a Teen’s Life
Did you know that many students don’t have someone they look up to? This could make you sad or it can be your opportunity to invest not just in your group at large, but in one student in particular. One way to do so over distance is by sending them a gift. My mother and I celebrated our quarantine-birthdays in May. It was so exciting to see people send simple things that meant a lot to us. They sent cake, balloons, gifts, etc. We were isolated because of my mother’s age but we still had a party. You can do the same for a student that you normally overlook. Send them a card or cook something and bring it to their house to show how important they are to you.
Challenge your students to reach out to others
While it’s important to remember God’s love and demonstrate it to your students, you can also encourage them to be a light in their community. You can mobilise students to make and donate masks. You can also also find a way to donate snacks or other needed items in the neighborhood. This can help them realise that they can do something significant even in times like these.
Even when you remember God’s love, pray, act as a role model and encourage your students to be a catalyst for positive change, it can still be difficult to believe that we’ll be together again. This feeling of despair can be accompanied by a feeling of loss. For many of us, it’s the loss of how things used to be. For others, the loss is more tangible. Remember to set time aside to acknowledge and process these feelings of loss and grieve. Next, when you’re ready, you can find creative ways to inspire feelings of hope.
One way to inspire hope is by making plans for when social-isolation is over. For example, you can plan an outing you’ll have in the park together or plan an upcoming outdoor picnic. Planning ahead can help students understand that hardships don’t last forever.
Our Refuge in Youth Ministry Uncertainty
We can be a helping hand in these ways and bring our students closer to the refuge we find in God. He is a strong tower where we can stay in hard times. This is why I pray that you would be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. I also pray that you remember how important you are as you continue being a helping hand and relying on Him who is our hope in uncertain times.