We are coming up on a month going all-online for our youth ministry. As I am sure you are noticing, the shininess is starting to wear off, and we are going to be needing to work a little bit harder to continue to seek online engagement from our students.  

For many, this is about the time where we are going to get discouraged. We are going to compare our attendance from before all this COVID stuff hit to our attendance after the switch to online-only. 

But let’s not compare apples to oranges. 

I don’t think it is healthy for us to compare what was happening in our ministry before COVID with how our ministry is reacting to it right now. It’s two completely different situations and circumstances. We have all had to uproot our strategy and implement a new one within a week. I am here to let you know that it’s going to take some time to build this new culture among both your students and your leaders.

And that is okay.

Give yourself a break for a second. Think about the culture you have in your ministry without COVID. The culture you have – whether you have been building it for years or you just took it over – has taken a while to get where it is right now. So we need to give our online strategies a little bit of time to catch. Too many times youth pastors try something new, but when they don’t see the results they want in a few weeks, they bail on it. They don’t give whatever it was time to sink in, take hold, and build up. 

Give it time. 

Don’t compare what you used to be pulling to what you are not. We need a new reference point. We need to use these first few weeks to see where we are beginning in this weird season, and use that as a reference point to build on. If you normally had 25 students on a Wednesday night, but you have only had 10 show up and be interactive on your online experience and groups, you are not missing 15 students; you have found your 10 core students in your ministry. Now you use this as a reference point and build from there. 

COVID-19 has hit the reset button for all of us. We are really finding out who our core students are in this season. We are also seeing who our core leaders are. We’re seeing which leaders really are all-stars, and which ones need more training in this season. 

COVID is not an excuse for what is missing in our ministry right now. It’s just revealing and highlighting what has been missing all along. I would say it is also revealing where we as leaders have been lacking in our own leadership skills. It’s revealing where we have allowed our personality or service or momentum from our ministry cover up our flaws a little bit. With all that gone, we really see where our own gaps in leadership are. Use this time to work on them. 

So don’t compare apples to oranges. What we WERE doing right and what we ARE doing right are way too different for us to get down or discouraged. Let’s figure out our new reference points of where to begin. Let’s keep driving this new culture and strategy for online. Let’s give it time. And let’s keep trusting in Jesus that His word will still be proclaimed and students will continue to get to know Him. 

Keep going. You got this. 

If you want to listen to two great podcasts from two great leaders who are leading well in the midst of all this, take a listen to these Youth Ministry Hacks Podcasts:

66: Hacks Of How To Make Online Small Groups Successful w/Jon Rush from Elevation Youth

67: Hacks On Developing Leadership Culture In A Digital Age w/ Sam Grosso