Coronavirus and Community

Forty-five days. This is how long I have been working from home. Forty-five days, most of them with a “work or home” order in place. Over forty-five days of not being able to gather in person with our church or with the students in the student ministry.

By God’s grace, it seems we’re reaching the point where restrictions are beginning to loosen, with the hope that the virus is abating. At the same time, it also seems the restrictions are being loosened because quarantine fatigue is beginning to have an effect on those abiding by these orders. A recent article shared many experts’ anxiety over this fatigue, as data showed people leaving their homes more and more despite the orders put in place by state and federal governments.

The effects that come from a lack of social interaction include an increase in depression and anxiety. To help fill in what’s missing a large number of people have turned to the use of technology designed to connect people virtually. Companies like Zoom, which was previously only used by a small percentage of the population, is now commonly used among a large number of American households. The virus, and measures introduced to slow its spread, have drastically simplified life in our culture, pulling the curtain back to reveal universal truths about who we are and how we were created.

One of God’s gifts of common grace to the world is the desire for community. He’s wired each and every one of us with a longing for a place where we belong. Deep within us, we all desire interaction with others. We desire interaction with one another, and deep relationships where we can be known and loved. While the intensity of this desire may change depending on the person, the age of social distancing has shown just how ubiquitous the desire is.

Community is an essential component in our growth as Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the reasons why “receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior” is an issue. While salvation involves taking responsibility for one’s own sin, repenting, and trusting Christ for forgiveness on a personal level, the Bible is clear that we have been redeemed to a community of believers.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:10

During the birth of the church in the beginning of the book of Acts, those who repented and trusted in Christ immediately came together as a community:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

Acts 2:42-44

As society begins to slowly return to the way things were before, now is the time for us to take an honest look at what we’ve prioritized and return back to what God has called us to be: a community of believers built on the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now is the time to simplify. Now is the time to push back against the idea of church as an experience. Now is the time to encourage others to trust Jesus for salvation and come into the community of God’s people. Then- and only then- will we find the deep community our souls long for.

This Week’s Top Three (April 29, 2020)

One of my prayers for the families in the student ministry is that they would make the most of this extra time with their teens. The family is the most basic and practical structure of society. God has established the family to be the means by which discipleship takes place. Yet, most of society seeks to counteract what God’s purposes. “The reason that people don’t know what to do at home is basically the same reason that family life appears unappealing to many…The bigger reality is that the social structure of the modern world is built this way, built against families. In the face of all this, it’s no wonder that families strain and break and that young people have second thoughts about starting families of their own. The family is a square peg in the world’s round hole.” Needless to say, this may be one of the most important articles you read during this Corona Season.


Tim Challies shared this article on his A La Carte post Monday. The headline seems like something from science fiction, but I think it reveals truths about what we value. The parameters of the experiment are explained in the article and the results are very fascinating, to say the least.


Certainly, it’s no secret that America has been heading in a more secular direction for quite some time. What’s surprising to me is just how quickly this is happening. Look at this research recently released from Barna, “A slim 51% majority of Americans believe in the most basic biblical attributes of God — down from 73% three decades ago.”

Why the Hiatus?

In late March, I produced a series of blogs to get resources into the hands of youth pastors and others who might need it. Though most of the ideas weren’t original, it was an opportunity to share what we were doing in our student ministry, with the hopes of helping others think creatively about reaching their students. For all of us in ministry, our strategies to engage teenagers and their families had to change in an incredibly short amount of time. My hope was to spark conversations to help us find ways to do exactly that.

A short time later, I stopped posting on the blog. Part of it was a desire to stay on top of those things most important- adjusting my own strategies for equipping families and reaching students. For our congregation, I wanted and needed the additional time to work together with the rest of the staff to reach out to members who are more at-risk. My priorities adjusted, as they often do in these “war-time” situations. In this case, the battle was against an enemy that is invisible, but still dangerous.

As my priorities adjusted, I began to reconsider my motivation behind writing. What was I trying to accomplish? When I originally started the blog, I wanted to give a place to formulate my thoughts. I wanted to spark conversations. I wanted to give people things to think about. As the weeks went on, I realized my desire to accomplish these things was still there. It continued to grow stronger. More than ever, I was given issues to think and write about.

Today, many of us aren’t able to physically meet with our students. Our gatherings look much different as we use the internet as a means to send content to families and interact with those in the ministry. In the midst of the difficulties of this season, we’re in a time of great opportunity. We can examine nearly every aspect of our ministries to think about what purpose they serve, and how they can help equip students and families to grow in their knowledge of and love for the Lord.

Starting this week, I’m going to be working on restoring the normal schedule to the site- a youth ministry post on Monday, articles I’ve been reading through the week on Wednesday, and a more personal post on Friday. Some of the posts may seem like they’re more applicable to “normal” times (if there even is such a thing). My hope is these posts would challenge us to reexamine every area of our lives. We have more time than ever to reevaluate and create a plan to adjust strategies for our lives, our families, and our ministry to others. Let’s make the most of it together. After all, we point to God as those who are saved by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ- a glorious redemption.

Youth Ministry in a Time of Urgency Part 3: The Gathering

Last night, we had a successful test run of our YouTube Live event: Youth Night Live. As I evaluated our options for platforms on which we could reach our students, I felt like YouTube would be our best bet. Most of our kids aren’t yet on Instagram, despite its 1 billion users. Instead, you can find them on YouTube. For perspective, YouTube has twice the number of users that Instagram has, including a staggering 81% of 15-25 year olds in the United States.

At some point, most students have shared a YouTube video they enjoyed with me. And if they haven’t directly showed it to me on their device, they’ve spoken about one in our conversations. I knew YouTube would be our best bet to connect with them. Furthermore, hosting a YouTube Live event meant our video could easily be saved on our channel and shared at a later time (something Instagram live can’t do as easily, if at all). To help protect the chat section, I invited a couple adults to moderate our account while we streamed. They could take down any inappropriate comments, as needed. Thankfully, it all went well!

Having chosen our platform, I began to think about how we could best fulfill the purpose our normal Wednesday Night gathering served. Namely, we wanted to connect students and families around the Word of God. To do this, we had to be intentional with our approach. I recognize a shortened attention span is an obstacle we all face as we look at engaging students through screens. This is why we planned for different segments, each no longer than ten minutes.

I promoted as much as I could, through every medium available to us. I used an Instagram post and stories on our Student Ministry page, Facebook (both personal and the church account), sent emails to parents and volunteers, and used our church connection software: Realm.

It all started by showing a countdown video created by Download Youth Ministry. Then, we played a Bible Trivia game, encouraging everyone to comment their answer. Once we finished the game, we showed a funny video made by some hilarious volunteers to help lighten the mood, before ending our time with ten minutes together in the Word. The success of Youth Night Live can only be attributed to my incredible team of volunteers. They subscribed to the YouTube account I made and were ready to interact with students. It was a joy to see!

This is where I have to encourage you to invite as many people as possible in to help. With everyone being at home and so spread out, we need a team now more than ever. We need to find people to bounce around ideas, interact with students in the comments, and check in with families. Use the gifts of your adult leaders to help customize your times to their skill set!

I also want to encourage you to find ways to be as interactive as possible. I understand that we’re all working with different amounts of technology and ability, but I consider last night a success because I was able to interact with students as I was teaching. Maybe for you it looks more like prerecording a video or teaching session, then interacting in the comments once its uploaded. However you meet the need, don’t neglect to find ways to gather together and connect with one another.

So, I’m curious: what did your group do to meet together this week? Feel free to share with me below! I would love to hear more about what others are doing!

Youth Ministry in a Time of Urgency Part 2: Resources

At this point, many of us have had a couple of days to think through how we’re going to adjust our normal gathering times. I know that Wednesdays are a popular time for student ministries. At my church, Wednesday night is our main worship gathering. As we are considering how to find new ways to accomplish the purposes of this gathering, I wanted to take some time today to compile some of the resources I’ve been looking at to help make decisions for my group.

If you don’t know where to start, I would encourage you to start here. Doug Fields and his team at Download Youth Ministry created this webpage last Friday, and they’ve been updating it with a steady stream of resources ever since. There are free interactive games, social media graphics to help you interact with students, and even lessons you can use in a pinch. You can also check out their blog post with great ideas here.

This video is from a gaming perspective, I believe; however, the principles still apply. His explanation is clear, and the software he discusses is completely free. If you’re looking to start with YouTube streaming, watch this video! (As a side note, we’re looking at streaming on YouTube this evening, so I’ll share more about how it goes and why we chose this platform tomorrow.)

So, how does all of this play out on the most practical level? I’ve attached the link to our Covid-19 page on our church website. Here, we’re updating our people on the latest information regarding service times and posting resources for families to use in their homes. This page is going to be updated often, so feel free to check back from time to time to see how our strategy changes.

What about you? What resources have you found useful? Feel free to share them below! Remember, we’re in this together!