Adrianus Valerius’ Christian hymn, We Gather Together, is often sung at Thanksgiving. While times are challenging, we do have much to be thankful for today. At YMI, we’re thankful for all of you working in ministry with youth, and we know you are trying to find ways to continue to gather your youth group when we must stay physically separated. There are a lot of creative and wonderful ideas that youth leaders are sharing. Here are just a few ideas that we’ve compiled at YMI today:
First, if at all possible, keep your regular weekly meeting time via Google Hangout, Zoom or similar. Sample format follows:
A. Opening Prayer
B. Check-in with everyone
C. Activity (following are some ideas)
- Show and Tell – have everyone find something that means a lot t to them (or is the most unusual thing in their house) and show it off and talk about it. Wrap up with gratitude for the things that make us happy.
- Everyone shares a photo of their pet(s) and talk about how they are caring for them now.
- Tiny campfire (everyone needs a candle and a snack; leader tells a story; sing some favorite youth group songs)
- Hold an “At Home Olympics” (come up with fun activities to compete – create a craft, fold origami, burpees, jumping jacks, etc). The leader keeps score and then can send the winner a prize.
- Have everyone write a note to another member of the group (assign before the event) and have them write what they like/appreciate most about that person.
- Send everyone an image to color and then send a picture to the leader. The images should all compile together to create a “whole” image. (We each contribute to complete the whole)
- Watch a movie or an episode of a show together and comment in real time.
- Have everyone create a “stay at home” playlist and share with the group
D. Based on the activity, have a framing question/thought for the week and have some discussion.
E. Ask a different group member to close in prayer each week
Outside of your regular youth group time, here are some other ways to gather and share fellowship:
1. Send out a daily devotion to your kids – this can be a short video with a piece of inspirational scripture or quote for the day.
2. Create a group text for daily check ins and updates.
3. Let people know when it is someone’s birthday in the group. Create videos/posts to send to the youth group member. Schedule a group Zoom (or other platform) gathering and have everyone sing happy birthday. Take some time to celebrate the youth member who may be struggling with feeling isolated on their birthday.
4. A bit further down the road, but we know that graduation/commencement is in doubt for our high school (and college) seniors – Throw a virtual party, have other members of the group send graduation cards or a gift, picture collages, etc.
5. Create interactive Taize services/meditation exercises using Zoom, Google Hangout, etc.
6. Create an interactive, participatory worship experience for youth. Baylor professor and YMI contributor Angela Gorrell offers suggestions on how to create a collaborative worship service on her website here.
7. YMI friend and contributor Mark DeVries offers tools for ministry during a challenging time on the Ministry Architects website.
Here are some service oriented ideas:
7. Have kids care for others by having them pick up groceries for elderly neighbors (and/or as it gets nicer, yard clean up)
8. Have kids make a card and drop it off to neighbors or a nursing facility (facilities can quarantine the cards, etc. for a few days and then hand out)
9. Have kids drop off much needed items at food pantries and share photos/videos with the group
10. Provide the phone number of an older church member to each youth group member. Have them call the person and check in, see how they are doing on a weekly basis. When you gather weekly, talk about how this has gone and how they have connected to others in the church.
“Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining…” Let us remain open to how God is calling us to be church and to gather together during this time. Be safe and stay well!