As the 2022 school year kicks off, that means at many churches around NSW youth group is back!
But with yet another year of pandemic restrictions and disruption ahead, how are youth leaders preparing? How do you make plans for teaching, activities and outings when so much is uncertain?
We asked some youth leaders to share their experiences with us:
Ruth Lee, Cornerstone Presbyterian Community Church
“We had an all-day meeting in mid-December with our leaders to reflect on the past year and to brainstorm ideas for 2022. Thankfully we were also able to go ahead with our annual Leaders Retreat in January. All leaders did a rapid antigen test before arriving, we wore masks indoors and we met outside for meetings where possible. Our campsite was also accommodating and provided us with a few extra rooms so we could have 2-3 leaders per room. We had about two thirds of our team able to attend in person as others were in isolation, recovering from or had COVID. Leaders who were at home joined us via Zoom for some of our sessions.
It was a great weekend looking into what it meant to be a leader (we’re working through Paul Tripp’s book LEAD this year) as well as spending time getting to know one another. In God’s kindness no COVID cases arose from our weekend away!
We’re excited to head into 2022 and have gone ahead and planned the year as usual.
Of course, we’ve factored in that we will continue our hybrid youth group for at least the beginning of Term 1- meeting in person but offering our online campus as an option for those who are unable to attend on site for various reasons. We’ll attend KYCK at the end of Term 1 and continue to trust God in our plans for the year, knowing that we may have to be flexible depending on the current COVID situation.
But we are facing challenges. How do you engage youth online when they are tired after a week of school? How do you create a gospel community when some youth remain online and majority in person? How do we love our youth by faithfully teaching the Word of God and see them grow into mature and godly followers of Christ?
I’m praying that our youth would have full reliance on God, no matter what the circumstances may bring this year. I’m praying our youth will build a gospel community that encourages and builds one another up and can have a community that is vulnerable with each other for the sake of God’s kingdom. I’m praying that ultimately our youth will own their faith and live out being a follower of Christ.”
Andrew Sylvester, Chatswood Presbyterian Church
“We had to cancel our training day and have an abbreviated, well-ventilated and spaced out meeting in person. In addition to this, safe ministry top up was done by an online questionnaire and a follow up zoom meeting to help plan out the year. It’s been a rather messy start to the year.
But the teaching curriculum is planned out for the year, activities will be planned at an upcoming zoom meeting and camp is planned for later in the year. You just have to plan for the best and be willing to be flexible!
We still anticipate we’ll face the challenges of parents unwilling to send children outside, youth preferring to stay home and becoming so acclimatised to their bubbles. I think social anxiety is going to be a big and hidden challenge for the year as well as deep meaningful connections amongst the youth. They have gone through such critical developmental years isolated from their Christian brothers and sisters
This year I’m praying for the youth at our church:
- That they would get real about their faith
- That they would recognise their vital need for Jesus to satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts
- That they would realise that when you fear God you don’t need need to fear people
- That God would work in their parents’ hearts to support their children’s growth in Christ
- That those who have gone through massive family traumas throughout this lockdown period feel comforted and supported.”