Youth Ministry in the Time of Covid- 19By Claudia Olivas
One of the key components of Youth Ministry Training is being up to date on social issues, recognizing trends and staying aware of technological advances. However, having an emergency plan for a pandemic is typically not on the list, nor is being prepared for someone in your congregation to die of a worldwide virus. For me personally, the whole process has been a turmoil of emotions, decisions and encounters with God, and leading myself and others to find new ways to minister to youth.
In this time of Covid-19 we continue to share Christ with our church youth group. We are encouraged as we hold meetings by Zoom and have been blessed that the youth have invited family and friends to these meetings. By the grace of God, some days there are more of us meeting online than when we met in person!
Our young people now have topics to discuss that are personal to them. Now the needs to be addressed are anxiety, depression, online classes, boredom, TikTok and other social media, issues that they are now dealing with as they are in quarantine.
Our ‘face-to-face meetings’ are online, and we do our devotionals on YouVersion. We see that they are developing, and we rejoice with them when they earn badges for their progress in Bible reading and personal devotions.
On a more ‘fun side’, Sergio and I make virtual games, and somehow manage to surprise them every Saturday.
We try and help them disconnect for a moment from the stress of being in quarantine and the monotony of each day.
As for our Youth Ministry students at MBTS, even though classes are and have been mostly online, the challenge now is that living conditions have changed. Everyone is under quarantine. Churches are closed. Students have had to move back home. Sometimes we only have worship and prayer on Facebook Live. We pray for these students, for what they are facing in their local churches, with their families, and with their youth groups.
We are also creating video resources where our YMI students can find information on trending topics during this quarantine. We give them some tools to minister to their youth groups who are facing these problems.
As we have been working through this pandemic, we have come to realize that the needs of our YMI students are not so much about continuing with their courses and taking exams, but rather it is pastoral responsibilities. We are walking alongside them, taking care of their spiritual life, and giving them the encouragement to persevere.
Claudia is a Youth Director at Connection Christian Church in Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico, a graduate of YMI’s MA Degree & Youth Ministry Professor at Mexico Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) Center for Youth Ministry, Mexico City.