It feels that the Covid-19 situation has rapidly escalated, leaving us in ministry unsure about our roles. To help you figure out what you should do, let’s look at what not to do. Here are 5 ways to hurt your ministry in times of social distancing.
Pretend Nothing is Happening
The worst mistake we could make as ministry leaders is to pretend nothing is happening. We must acknowledge the realities of the situation we face. As a leader, you will need to consider everything you had planned.
Should you host that gathering? Should you risk exposure of your adult leaders, especially your more at risk leaders?
How about the parents and grandparents – does hosting a gathering of students put them at risk?
In times of difficulties, it is crucial that your sphere of influence trust your judgment. Failure to acknowledge and consider the full weight of the situation will quickly diminish the trust people have in you.
For a variety of reasons, we can struggle to connect with parents. At all times, but especially now, do not avoid parents.
Parents are carrying their own worries and concerns. Some of them are losing paychecks, wondering if they can provide for their children, and concerned about their individual parent’s health. Use this time to reach out to them – providing pastoral care and support.
Many parents will appreciate you for reaching out, but may not show it. After the dust has settled, though, they will see you in a new way. By reaching out to parents now, they will come to respect and appreciate you. They may even see you as one of their leaders, not just the leader of their children.
Assume Students Don’t Understand
Too often, the world assumes that students do not understand what is happening. Those of us who work with students or children know that they hear everything.
Your students are experiencing anxieties right now. They need adults who will sit (via phone call or video call) and listen to how they are feeling about what is happening. They may also have questions and need adults who will attempt to answer those questions. Even if you do not have answers, take the time to research the answer with them.
Give students respect. Show them that you see their anxieties and hear their questions. They will be moved by your willingness to sit with them when so many other adults are not.
Waste the Extra Time
Don’t waste the extra time. Unfortunately, many of us are being moved into social isolation. Introverts may appreciate the spare alone time while extroverts may hate the alone time. Either way, we have extra time on our hands.
Use this time to do extra preparation you need to do. Plan your lessons farther out or spend time thinking about the big picture of your ministry.
Or better yet, spend this time focusing on your spiritual growth. Read a book that will challenge you. Spend extra time in Scriptures. Do what you can so that you are ready to go. The world will return to normal eventually, will you be ready?
Avoid Using Technology
Do not avoid using technology. Technology has given us many opportunities today in ministry that we did not have even ten years ago.
We use Zoom for video coaching, consulting, and team meetings. Consider using Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or some other form of video calling to create a sense of community.
For more ideas, read our article, 7 Ways to Minister in Time of Social Isolation.
What we are experiencing as a society is challenging many of us. We can choose to waste the time that we have and hurt our ministry, or we can use this social distancing as a chance to grow, do ministry in unique ways, and gain trust with our parents.
Stay well, friends!
Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.