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Youth ministry beyond Zoom fatigue

Youth connected with Bible and Zoom

“Zoom creates a sense of dread for many and can make even the best-planned activities fall flat.” Christy Miller-White offers alternatives.

Christy Miller White
Youth Ministry Initiatives Coordinator

For over a year now, many of us have diligently created activities, Bible studies, and special events that translate both in person and through digital platforms. After a year of schooling online and attending church through a device, our youth (and adults) are weary of receiving Zoom links and digital invitations. Zoom creates a sense of dread for many, and it can make even the best-planned activities fall flat.

We rejoice as the weather improves here in Michigan and outdoor options become more available to our youth groups. Increased vaccination rates also offer hope that we will be able to gather safely and without as many restrictions around our activities. As life begins to open back up, should we just leave all the digital tools we have used this year in the past?

As tempting as it is to dive back into things the way “they used to be,” it is critical that we carry the skills and tools that have allowed us to maintain community when everyone cannot be together face to face. Digital gatherings allow for those who do not have transportation to participate. Online community ensures that those with disabilities that limit their mobility or ability to participate still have a way to stay connected. Soccer practice on youth group night no longer means that participation is not happening when we maintain digital options in faith formation.

How do we keep things going digitally and in-person without burning out completely?

Simplify.

To keep Bible study going throughout the year, send out a scripture verse at the beginning of the week to your youth group text/chat/email. Throughout the week, offer up questions to the group and encourage them to share their thoughts. It does not have to be a daily email. In fact, I would encourage you only to ask 2-3 questions and allow space for youth to answer when they have a chance to engage. Through this practice, you maintain a digital connection point and encourage thoughts about scripture and faith throughout the week.

Check out the latest summer resource, “Summer of Playful Kindness,” as a free and no-hassle way to help your youth connect to each other, their community, and God. Here are some easy ways to use this curriculum with your youth group.

  1. Send out the Scripture passage or link to the video each week to your youth in a group text/email/chat. If you are only using text, please be sure to include either a link to the version of the passage you would like them to use or send the full text to them. By sending out a link or full text, you remove any barriers that might keep them from accessing the Scripture. Some online Bible options that don’t require an app are Biblegateway (multiple translation options)  and Biblica (NIV in multiple languages).
  2. Throughout the week, send out the activity suggestions and “I Wonder” questions to a group text/chat. Allow the students to share their thoughts. It is okay if it feels like students are not responding well to every prompt. Creating a “no pressure” conversation will encourage them to engage when they are able and/or willing.
  3. One way to use the Kindness Bingo game is to have a contest to see who can fill up their Kindness Bingo Card first! Have a group of prizes to help them feel motivated to fill their summer with acts of kindness. If you choose this contest model for the bingo card, it may be wise to have parents/guardians sign each square to eliminate questions of fairness, etc.
  4. Another way to use the Kindness Bingo card is to use it to inspire your youth to pick activities they would like to do together in the community. You can either do them as official youth group activities or encourage your youth to gather within their family units.

We would love to see pictures of your youth and families spreading kindness around the community and serving in mission! Please send any pictures to me at [email protected].

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The Michigan Conference