Aaron Faucett Minister of Youth Bible Baptist Church of Wilmington, Ohio
What a difference a month makes. The coronavirus: an incurable protein molecule that cannot be killed, but must decay on its own has upended the days of the main platform for delivering God’s word from behind a pulpit. Yeah, that sounds like a perfect season to be a youth pastor! (Sarcasm inserted). Instead of the platform being the sheep come to you, they are now scattered abroad and on lockdown. Does anyone else hear the wolves howling in the background? A major change that has affected churches around the world is the platform by which we feel we were forced into. This new platform entails going online for most of our ministries, which went away from our motto of building relationships by being face-to-face. My natural instinct was to panic, hyperventilate, shut the blinds, and crawl up in a fetal position while sucking my thumb with my blanky. Not because of being scared, but because we did not know exactly what we were reaching forth to in reference to Philippians 4:13b. We did not want these avenues of communication to come across as unprepared and just thrown together either. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. So when dealing with the research and tendencies of how teenagers respond to certain online platforms, I went to the experts…..my kids. College freshman, High School senior, and Middle School 7th grader all under the same roof and I get to play the dual role of being dad and youth pastor.
What we have implemented in our youth group (called ELEVATE) is just what we are doing in the initial phase of this whole COVID-19 thing. It certainly is not the master template, but instead of just sitting on our hands, we had to remember the devil is still roaming about. To give you an idea, our youth group runs around 105 on Sunday mornings and 85 on Wednesdays. I have included a list of things we are doing and are venturing to do in the short future to keep kids in the word of God. When I say we….I have spread out some responsibilities across my youth leaders (9) who assist me.
Worked up a full roster excel sheet with every kid’s phone # (parent’s # if child didn’t have one)
-Personally contacted through text or voice call every 2 days
Made a private ELEVATE youth Facebook page where all videos, important times, and updates are placed.
-We found that the parents utilize this platform very much, but not the kids
Made a private ELEVATE youth Instagram page where I post a 1-minute video with a verse, maybe a challenge (post favorite verse), and just something from their youth pastor’s heart about every 2 days.
-Nearly 90% of our youth utilizes this platform
-For the 10% that didn’t, I would personally send them the video through their phone or their parent’s phones.
We channeled them to our Church live streams for our normal online services, and every Tuesday I am doing a livestream called “Daily Connections” @ 2pm where they can tune in and see me along with getting a Bible lesson.
Our last avenue that we are venturing into is the online meeting forum ZOOM. Allowing the kids a chance to actually see each other’s faces live. I am running a trial meeting with my leaders first so we can work out any kinks.
I pray this is a help and a blessing to you as we share different platforms with the leading of God’s power.