I started having serious conversations last week with parents and students about fall youth ministry plans. Our state has progressed in reopening to the point that allows in-person meetings of 50 or fewer people, all masked, who retain six feet of physical distance and who preferably gather outside. So it seemed worth considering: could we gather youth under those conditions?
The conversations revealed persistent anxiety about reopening, even though we’ve slowly been doing it for weeks. Outbreaks in other regions of the country are scary, and the daily case count in our state started moving in the wrong direction last week, too, making any mid-July decisions about September and October feel tentative, if not foolish. The parents of my students are on top of that, for very good reason.
Talking with them also made clear that decisions about church participation will likely follow decisions about school and sports activities. If schools aren’t open, church events won’t see a lot of kids. If schools are, they might see some.
The clearest picture right now is one of continuing online youth ministry. Of course, “continuing” need not mean extending our emergency plans from the spring into the indefinite future. We can iterate on Zoom. We can make the kinds of plans we’ve never made before, not simply because the circumstances don’t permit anything else, but also because they urgently call for this.
Many of us have lamented that we weren’t trained for this. Yes we were.