As everyone signed off the virtual youth night, the silence hit me. It’s a silence I have heard before, it is one that emerges after a night of ministry, but this evening it was deafening. The silence is a reminder of how much I miss the teens and adults who make up the ministry I oversee. I never thought I would miss the volunteer who would linger behind to lament about that one disruptive kid in their small group. I never thought I would miss waiting with a teen for their parent to pick them up. I miss it, and it’s been hard.
While I miss seeing people face to face, it reminds me that there are several ways we can connect and communicate with others. While there is nothing more powerful than in-person interaction, there are still things we need to do to tell the teens in our parish that we are always near. While it’s essential to have that weekly check-in (Whether It’s Virtually Or Physically) it’s not enough, and that’s why we need to:
IF YOU MISS THE TEENS, UTILIZE OTHER MEDIUMS
Social media is a powerful method of getting the message out to your audience, but it can also get lost in the noise. Technology can make our efforts lazy. It’s easy to type up an email or hold up our phone to record a message. Again, those mediums can be useful, but they lack the authenticity of:
PICKING UP THE PHONE: While you might not have the time to call everyone, you can still call someone. Whether it’s the teens or their parents, picking up the phone to ask them, “How Are You Doing?” can speak volumes. While screens can connect you, sometimes we need a break from them.
SENDING A CARD: Something is exciting about receiving a piece of mail. It’s like unwrapping a gift because of the time and energy spent creating and mailing it. Unlike other forms of communication, a handwritten note or card is personal and shows the recipient that you care about them.
When you miss someone, make an effort to let them know that you care by doing something unique and personal. The impact and influence you will have on them will speak volumes.
IF YOU MISS THE TEENS, AMPLIFY YOUR EFFORTS
While it would be great to see all of my teens, knowing that someone from the ministry is reaching out to them is just as good. As the weeks go by, making sure your team has the best contact information to connect with their teens. Give them ideas (e.g., writing cards, watch parties) for how to communicate so that they don’t just rely on email. Remind your team that they are not only an extension of your ministry but God’s love.
IF YOU MISS THE TEENS, DO THE SMALL THINGS
Right now, the idea of running a ministry while figuring out life can be overwhelming. You might not feel like you can do it all, and that’s okay because no one is asking you. Start with one person and make that interaction meaningful. Focus on the quality of the relationship before you worry about the metrics.
When the quarantine is over how you interact with your teens, their families and your volunteers will still matter. Use this as a time to practice quality dialogue and intentional communication. Build into your schedule the ability to check-in so that the relationships can again grow. It’ll make the parish community you are a part of even stronger.
Do you miss the teens in your youth ministry? If so, how are you connecting with them?
This article about what to do if you miss the teens originally appeared here.