Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Youth and Children’s Work during Lockdown with John Stevens, Michael Tinker and Michael Williams.
1. Timothy is an example of the importance of youth and children’s ministry (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15). He knew the Scriptures from infancy – the promises and commands of God. He was converted in his youth, most likely as a result of Paul’s missionary journey, As a teenager he was discipled, making significant progress and had a good reputation in the church. He also served in mission from his youth being sent out by Paul as an apostolic delegate.
2. Summary of government guidance for Youth and Children’s work in England. Check out John Stevens blog for full summary.
– Complex because it requires consultation of a number of sources of guidance.
– Children under 5 must be supervised by parents/guardians at church services (i.e. sit with them).
– No creche or Sunday school group for under 5s. Even private baby room is problematic unless only one household using it.
– No parent and toddler groups possible at present because of restrictions to do with mixing households if parents/carers are present.
– Groups for children over 5 years old are possible. Maximum group size including leaders is 15; social distancing of 2m if possible is required; if more than one group of 15, each group must remain separate and consistent (problematic for churches with rota system of volunteers). Social distancing, hygiene and cleaning important.
– Lots of restrictions in terms of activities – no contact games, no live performances (drama, comedy, music), no singing, shouting or blowing of instruments; no sharing of food, ideally no sharing of craft resource; no residentials or camps.
– Key is the risk assessment which will need to be shared with staff/volunteers and published on website. An explanation will be given to parents about steps taken to reduce risk and other protective measures put in place, and consent should be gained with register of children attending kept.
– Youth group Bible studies with quiet voice speaking is permissible.
– Don’t expect consistency from government guidance. It has all been developed piecemeal. Though there is a recognition in guidance that risk of transmission and danger to children is less than adults.
3. Video is here to stay (at least for a while) so we need to think proactively about it.
4. What are some of the benefits of video?
– It helps use to share the gospel far wider than before.
– It provides something accessible for those who can’t get out to church (including SEN children, those who find bigger setting intimidating, who need to watch things a number of times, or who need to stop and start).
– It is a great way to resource the family especially those who are new to or struggle to read the Bible in the home.
– It can be a way of addressing parents to help them engage their children – “Children, ask your parents about that…”
– It is an opportunity for parents to teach children how to listen outside pressure of main service.
– It is a way of demonstrating resources to parents.
5. Doing video is different to doing things in person: a) Your surroundings are different (can’t move around, get children to help, respond to looks of children); b) Their surroundings are different – more distractions; c) Sound is different – TV/Computer, hard to vary levels of volume.
6. When making videos: keep it interesting; try to find a format that works; kids like repetition and knowing what to expect; have similar sections each time but with subtle twists or occasional surprises; try different camera angles – sudden change can build excitement; go on location; draw children in with a look; know script well so you can keep looking at the camera; give it a pace; keep it godly; get a good mic.
7. For young people lockdown has been a period of loss. Loss of moments – weekly youth group, summer camps or conventions, those big moments that act as pillars for the year, having stuff to look forward to. Loss of mates – seeing Christian friends, feeling isolated. Loss of structure – no different between weekdays and weekends, term time and holiday.
8. Young people feel lethargic: a) Physically (got used to being stuck inside sitting in front of Xbox or Netflix they don’t fancy doing anything); b) Academic (without discipline of teachers and school structure); c) Emotional (what’s the point, bored of everything); d) Spiritual.
9. Great opportunity to re-evaluate our youth ministry. Is our focus outreach or discipleship? Focus on one primarily. If our focus is outreach we need to concentrate on broadcast and producing a product to beam into homes of teenagers in the area. If our focus is discipleship we need to concentrate on interaction, investing in the teenagers in the church and growing their faith.
10. Two great aims for youth group focusing on discipleship: i) Keep facilitating Christian friendships; ii) Keep teaching the Bible. These are great aims for youth ministries not in lockdown or journeying out of lockdown too.
11. Don’t lose heart. Think about the potential. Remember it is God’s work.
12. Keswick Convention has got good high quality online resources this year for children and youth.
13. Be realistic about expectations when it comes to the online involvement. If engagement is limited, broadcast focus might be preferred to interaction focus.
14. FIEC has produced a COVID-19 risk assessment template.