You know what? I miss going out for dinner with my wife. And I miss going to my local Starbucks, drinking my tall Pike Place and working among the others who are doing the same, away from their office or home. Sitting there, meeting with other people. Laughing. Discussing. Lamenting. Planning. And I really miss family moments not happening on a screen. I miss not being able to hold my 2-year-old granddaughter.
I miss community.
There. I said it. Please, no judgment.
As I have processed this desire for community, (something my friend Bret Lamsma touches on so well in the May 2020 Today podcast), it has become clear to me that people handle not being in it differently.
A pastor I spoke with recently shared, “During this time of COVID, I believe the elderly will bounce back to their church community. They are resilient in their faith. I am not so sure, however, about our youth and emerging adults.”
Maybe this is a reality in your context as well. I wonder if we have laid a strong enough foundation of church community for our children. Is this time of COVID-19 isolation the time to rethink our youth and emerging adult ministries? To evaluate whether they’re really doing what we hope they’re doing?
We can start simply by reaching out to those who might believe no one cares.
Identify who your church’s teens and young adults are and where they are. Some are at home, some are living elsewhere. Make a list.
Make sure that each one of your youth and emerging adults has at least one person outside their immediate family who will commit to walking alongside them. Ask them to send an encouraging card or note to their young person to introduce themselves. (Who doesn’t love getting mail today?)
Ask those adults to reach out to their young person at least once every two weeks through text, WhatsApp, a phone call, a video call etc. (For minors, make sure their parents are okay with this before reaching out).
Pray for the children, youth, and emerging adults in your church and community. Offer a prayer of protection amidst the lonely days of isolation. The power of prayer is such an important part of discipleship, and should not be neglected.
Then, as you continue to build these relationships, find creative ways to virtually walk with teens and young people going forward.
Each young person looks forward to life milestones, and will mourn the loss of many of them during this COVID-19 time. Mourn with them in their pain. Acknowledge their struggle and listen to their hearts. Be a support for them as they process their grief. Celebrate their accomplishments and invite the broader community to share in their moments.
And, as always, continue to pray unceasingly for the younger members of your community.
Is your church finding creative ways to walk alongside young people? Please share them in the comments below.