For the past 6 months or so I have been listening to Student Ministry Leaders discuss the pains of rebuilding after the pandemic. I've heard them say things such as funding, and the lack of ministry leaders support for the youth, is what they believe is a huge hindrance. I have been a leader in the youth field for over 37 years. And I know that it takes major effort to accomplish anything dealing with young people especially in ministry. I know that feeling of being excited to deal with the youth in the beginning and then come to the realization that it's not as easy as you thought it would be.
All is not lost. For the Student Ministry leaders that really care and are committed and commissioned by GOD to do this task, I have some tips for you that will not only help you get your Students back but have them bringing in others.
3 TIPS on fishing for youth after COVID19
We all know that this day and age a lot of parents don't make it mandatory for their children to go to church. Now the choice is up to the children if they want to go or not. It is our job as the Student Ministry leaders to capture their attention enough to make them want to come. I've seen where youth have caught taxi's to get to church because they didn't want to miss the message from their youth leaders. But how do you get that reaction from the youth in your area? Let's answer this question via Social Media, Community and being an Angler.
Why Are Our Student Ministry Lacking Students?
Once the pandemic hit it shut the world down. Churches doors were closed and it took a while for us to realize that technology was the way that we had to go. By doing "online services" it still provided a way to reach our congregations. However a habit was formed...
Youth started making the decision between looking at church or scroll their favorite Social Media platform. This became the ultimate habit. Even worst, if we as youth leaders didn't take the time to stay in touch with our students during the pandemic, their choices and focus most likely went to "chilling on their devices."
Bait To Bring Students In: Social Media, Community, Anglers
95% of students use YouTube and 19% use it almost constantly, according to the Gospel Coalition.
Media is a main source of information and communication for our young people. Now that we know this, we should try our best to reach them where they are at. Social Media is a great "Fishing" hole for our young people. Use it to
Start a small online youth ministry group
Posting major announcements and starting great discussions
Utilize their platforms to bring awareness to others as to what they are doing in youth ministry
It is helpful if one of your youth leaders can be a designated monitor for your Social Media platform. For example find a teen in your Student Ministry who is exceptionally great at content. Allow them to post the content and have a volunteer monitor their postings. Have a youth meeting where they can make a TikTok or Reel utilizing them and perhaps you, and post it.
It is a must that your Student Ministry is visible in the community. Why would they come if they don't know what you have to offer? Being visible means:
Doing community activities such as cleaning up and or volunteering at a local shelter etc.
Hosting community events. Such as carnivals, movie nights, skating parties, bowling parties and invite the community.
Volunteering at the local schools is a plus! The students get to see you and know who you represent. It's an opportunity to "FISH"
Join in with outreach ministries that can help build excitement and enthusiasm. This will keep your Students on their toes and wanting more. Take this opportunity to do community events and post flyers at your local rec centers and schools.
I had a Pastor once say to me:
"If I'm not uncomfortable then you're not doing your job as a youth leader". "Why? Because that means you're basically doing what I am doing."
So I say to you be different, step outside of the box and watch the youth come and bring friends. Same MESSAGE ( HIM crucified and raised up) just a different method.
noun a person who fishes with a rod and line.
I remember sitting in a boat in the middle of the river in the sometimes hot scorching sun. I wasn't alone , I was a 10 year old grandson with a grandfather that was an Angler. All those "fishing" trips led me right to the analogy I have today. As youth leaders we need three things:
Great bait for a particular type of "fish" (youth)
An aquarium ( vibrant Student Ministries, place to hold the fish)
My grandfather was an Angler, his speciality was a rod, line and bait. He had the right amount of patience it took to sit and wait for the fish to bite. Anglers are very important to have! These are your people that will go out into the deep and get the "FISH" that no one else is even thinking about.
Anglers know what type of bait to use to go get the specific youth. They have the right temperament and patience. Either you or someone on your team need to be an Angler, you can tell them by:
Their patience meter
Their ideas of how to reach the youth
Their willingness to ensure the youth voice is being heard. Every Student Ministry must have Anglers attached to them. They will help you keep your Student Ministries fresh, vibrant and exciting! I spend the majority of my time training other Anglers. Keeping those rods (fishing ideas to attract youth) new and the lines un kinked. Always remembering that we have to serve a present age.
Put your rods out: Time to go get them!
Let's face it times have changed and youth had definitely changed the way they view life. We have such an opportunity to make a positive impact on them. Take the keys I have given you above and open up a whole new meaning to Student Ministries! Be the leader that has the Student Ministry setting that others can only dream about. Allow God to use you in the way that you know would be pleasing unto him. It’s time out for doing business as usual, because too many of our students are dying! Let's get out and go save some lives. Throwing out our poles into the deep waters and catch our youth.
I'm always breaking these down in FREE webinars. You can also catch me in various areas with the "Let's Go Fishing" Series of Seminars. Or perhaps you need me to come out and speak with your Student Ministry Team?
Whatever the case maybe just remember that we are in this together.
Pastor Derwin R. Jackson Sr.