When we switched to all online I feel like our team was able to pivot really hard to make sure we provided a really good service online. I would say for the first 8 weeks we busted our butts, long editing hours, me kind of being a crazy person making sure all things were turned in on time for editing (just ask my team, a few apology texts went out in the beginning) all to make sure our online content was top notch.
I won’t lie to you, I think it was. I was/am super proud what we have been doing in this season and it will change a few things for the better even after we go back to meeting normally, whatever that means. But online services will not keep students engaged… alone.
One thing about youth ministry that will not change, even in the midst of COVID is…
The importance of real relationships.
Know how I know? Because online viewership went down as we went on and could not meet for 14 weeks. And then when we were able to meet outside on campus for small groups for 2 weeks, the engagement went way up again, like a breath of fresh air… now we are back to only online here in California. What am I getting at? As time went on, we realized students just wanted the message and to break into groups. We still film the fun stuff but we put it on on our Youtube Channel and share it around, but we put so much thought into our services thinking it’s what they wanted… but it was not.
While a lot of energy is being focused for online programming for our youth, we are crazy if we think that’s the thing that’s going to keep them engaged. Relationships built by small group leaders do that. Pour into your leaders so they pour into students.
Online services are the spark to the conversation, but we need to count it as a win if a student doesn’t tune into online but a leader tunes into their life at some point during the week.
I put out a survey to my team about what are the most engaged small group leaders doing in your eyes and guess what, it was not just watching the online services we planned. Here are some of the responses.
They are not giving up. They continue to reach out to students through out the week regardless of the lack of responses some students give. I believe that persistence has been the reason we have had the attendance we have had.
They are texting their students more than twice a day and are meeting with them physically.
Finding days and times that work best for the largest group meeting. Most meet on Wednesdays, but some meet other days, because that’s what works best for their entire group. Some engage in fun group activities before settling down and diving into the content.
Meeting @ houses, parks, having a separate day to just solely hang with their students
They are reaching out and connecting with students outside of Wednesdays. They are in constant communication with students. One of them had them over for a taco night to watch service together a few weeks ago.
Each response is from a different campus, not knowing what others were gong to write, about their leaders and what the most engaged group’s leaders are doing. See a pattern?
So in this season, I am challenged and reminded to pour into my leaders like how I want them to pour into their students because this is how we are going to see the best engagement moving forward. We will continue to put our best foot forward online, but we will not lose the main focus of what is the glue to making discipleship happen.