I have a 3-year-old and she is always leaving the back door to our deck open. Not such a great thing when you also have a 1-year-old ready to escape at any moment.
Enter COVID-19. Friends, I’m with you. I’m more tired than that one time I ran a 5k. I don’t know what day it is. I can’t remember if I put on deodorant today. I have all this extra time at home, and yet I’m overwhelmed with the 2 things on my to-do list. We are going through a global pandemic. Let’s be gentle with ourselves. I want to give you one quick thing I’m learning right now about closing the back door in this season of online ministry.
After our first night of online programming, a student DM’ed our ministry’s Instagram with her address because it was her first time ever engaging with our ministry. She had always been afraid to come alone. We were going to send pizza delivery to her door (a great front door idea, thank you, DYM fam!). Along with her address, she said, “I also am interested in how to have a relationship with God.” I called her that night and she asked Jesus to be her savior and Lord. That’s just like God — to draw people to Himself even amidst low production value — even when I can only give shreds of time planning and praying during my kids’ naps!
Because it was just one student, I’ve been able to personally follow up with her multiple times since. I sent her a video telling her I’d been praying for the requests she’d sent me, and she sent one back saying that made her day. I connected her with a student leader who also reached out to her. I sent her a Bible in the mail. I offered to do a Bible study with her over facetime and she agreed. When I did these things, I was shutting the back door.
Right now, what’s front and center is, “What are we going to do to get kids to engage with what we are producing?” (The front door) That’s a great and important question. But I think we should be spending just as much time with those who are engaging through the front door, to not let them slip out the back door. How can you make your ministry be more personal right now? How can you and your team follow up? Students are lonely and the personal touchpoints will speak volumes.
-Have a brainstorming session with your team, just focusing on follow-up. Pick the best 1-3 ideas, delegate them, and make that a focus this week.
-Think about how many kids you and your other small group leaders can send a short encouraging video, text, or hand-written card to this week.
-How can you mobilize your student leaders to follow up with their friends who attend your experiences?
-What administrative tasks can you delegate or forgo so that you can be more freed up for pastoral care?
-What students do you know whose families are especially struggling right now? What if you simply made a new prayer board especially for this season of COVID-19 in your home office so you can visually be reminded to pray throughout the week for the needs of your community?
Often, I get so overwhelmed because I want to reach ALL the students, but my time is so limited in this season as a volunteer youth worker. I want the masses. But what if we just focused on finding the ONE lost student like Jesus did in Luke 15? If 5,000 youth workers across the country focused on discipling just two students this year, and those two students go and make two more disciples each subsequent year…we will have discipled 5 million students in the next ten years by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.
I want in on that. Let’s close the back door in His strength.
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV), “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Sabrina has been doing youth ministry for 12 years. She has her bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministry from Lincoln Christian University. She has staff experience both working in mega churches and at a church plant, middle school and high school, creative arts, small groups, and director roles.
Now, by day she is the momma to two little girls in the land of 10,000 lakes: Minnesota! She and her husband love attending River Valley Church and currently volunteer with the local FCA. And she still loves creating resources to help other youth workers win!