Author

Meredith Garreau

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been having severe youth director guilt. “Oh no! I’m not checking in with every single kid every single day this week! Oh no- I’m not doing livestreams and I feel like every youth director in my town is!! Am I failing?!!” etc.  

Our job is not to be their parent, activities coordinator, or teacher. Our job is to be their youth leader. So what are some easy ways to provide our youth with something engaging to do that can help them connect?

We just started having a weekly activity that kids can participate in by using social media (mostly Instagram, but I’m sure you could adapt any of these to other platforms). That being said, for any kids not on social media, I just sent them the info individually so that they could participate. Here are a few ideas we’ve done and a few that are next on the agenda!

  1. Scavenger Hunts- You’ve heard this idea before! Make a list for an indoor scavenger hunt with everything from your favorite board game to an old church bulletin! Kids send in what they found and for ours, I sent the winner a $10 gift card to a local ice cream place that still has their drive-thru open! 
  2. Two Truths and a Lie- Yup, another game you already know! Have teens send you two true things about themselves and one lie. If your church has a youth Instagram page, post the truths and lies on an Instagram story and use the quiz feature, so that other kids can pick which answer they think is the lie! No Instagram? Send out the choices individually so that kids can still vote!
  3. “Would You Rather?”- This one works well for Instagram also. Post “Would You Rather” questions on an Instagram story and use the poll feature again to see what most people picked. If you don’t have Instagram, you could make a cool graphic of “Would You Rather” questions and text them out!
  4. True Facts- Have teens send you 3 little known facts about them. Send out the facts and have other teens guess who the facts are about!

I’ll be honest- at first I was a little worried about these activities. I kept thinking, “What if NO teens even participate? What if they hate all of these?!” I was actually surprised at how much of a positive reaction these really simple ideas got. I even had a few of my more fringe youth participate (probably because they’re bored out of their minds, but hey, I’ll take it!!).

The best though, was when a teen let me know the activities brought her normalcy and helped calm her anxiety. So, go ahead and take one of these activities for a spin! I’ll be counting down the days until we can meet in person with our youth again, but until then I’ll keep the weekly activities coming!

It happens to all of us- as we get closer and closer to Spring Break, we’re debating how to adapt our lessons and games for a smaller crowd. It can be a little stressful also when you have a church and youth group on the smaller side already, let alone when kids get a week off from school. So in my years as a Youth Director I’ve found a solution.

1. Cancel it

Yup- I cancel Youth Group on the Sunday night beginning AND ending Spring Break. The reason being this: when I am trying to plan a program for those Sundays and worrying about it constantly, it becomes more of a numbers game than a caring for the youth situation. My primary focus which should be on the wellbeing and faith nurturing of my middle and high schoolers, switches to just getting as many kids there as possible.

2. Use the Time to Catch Up

So to bring my focus back to what really MATTERS about youth ministry, I use Spring Break as a time to catch up with my kids who are still in town. A week off from school is a great time to catch up with kids in small groups or one-on-one at a restaurant for lunch. Many times, that’s when a kid can open up to you or others about what is going on in their life or ask you any questions about their faith that they may be having.

Another nice perk of no programming during Spring Break is that you can catch up with any of your former youth now in college. Some university Spring Breaks may coincide with your town’s break so that you can meet them for coffee in person. If not, it’s also a great time to give them a call or send a text to see how they’re doing. It’s easy for your former youth to get lost in the shuffle when you’re dealing with the current youth at home. This can be the perfect time to hear how their semester is going and pray with them.

None of this is rocket science.  I’m sure most of you know the importance of building personal connection with the kids in your youth program. However, if you’re me, sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to check in with all your kids even once in a while. Spring Break is the perfect way to turn a negative into a positive; through cancelling your programming, you might ironically find the time to truly connect with a teen.