Kia ora, Hello to every one involved in youth ministry in Aotearoa. We are in a season like no other. From midnight 24 March we are moving into Covid-19 Alert Level 4. As anxieties build and things change so rapidly can we start with a quote from Farid Ahmed A Christchurch shooting survivor and widower
“If our heart is full of love, then peace will start from here: Ko te aroha nui o te ngākau, te tīmatanga o te maungārongo,” Farid Ahmed
As we consider all that is unfolding and look at what we can do in the midst of everything , let’s do this with love and kindness. So here are some practical suggestions … We are all being asked to stay at home and physically isolate ourselves. This will have it’s challenges, especially for young people.
Here are some links with the latest updates that may be helpful if there is any confusion over what the Alert Levels are and what we can and can’t do
As we are staying at home, in lockdown , restricted in our physical contact with one another, the need to stay connected is more vital than ever, The youth leaders in Wellington sum it up really well. “we want our young people to thrive not just survive” and we can all agree with that
Here are some suggestions that may be helpful in growing and developing your young people and strengthening their walk with God , even in this unique and challenging time
1. ENGAGE WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE ON-LINE
Suggest that for those unable to use internet, phone (via parents phone if necessary) x2 a week As Anglicans we are recommending the use of Zoom It has 2 options.
- Zoom Basic A free Zoom account where you can host 3 or more people, it has unlimited sessions but are limited to maximum of 40 mins per session
- Zoom Pro: which has extra features and unlimited time oneach session> We have groups across NZ using a combination of both
Key Leaders holding Pro accounts and all other leaders hosting small groups on the Zoom Basic Attached are some guidelines on how to use Zoom safely with your young people and we are offering a tutorial session on how to use the platform well with young people should you require it. (If you choose to use Zoom there are alterations you can make to the settings to maximise safety)
As leaders, prepare before you meet just like you would for a youth group event. These sessions can be even more intense as often young people say tings on line that they may not say in person Have 2 leaders at each session and we suggest you have 1 prepared to host and 1 following and addressing the chat option where young people can type thoughts and questions
- Be familiar with the Guidelines around use of Zoom and ensure you practices as suggested to ensure safety at all times for you and the young people
- Be familiar with Zoom and know how to use it well
- Have content for each session ready so there is no awkward silent times . Our young people so need laughter and fun right now, Weave it across your planned session. Favourites of Mafia, TicToc, Charades, scavenger hunts, Scattegories, can all be done online
Utilising these 3 I’s may also helpful in preparation
- Intentional interactions eg 30 mins into session call a 5 min drink/toilet break, set a challenge Get them to sign back in after the 5 min break and then the 40 min time limit on Zoom Basic becomes irrelevant.
Setting the right vibe / Hospitality…
This is really important when we meet with our young people online.
- As leaders meet on Zoom first and pray together before the young people join you
- Be online first to greet everyone as they join
- Set the culture / vibe of every session.- don’t let things slip eg Safe behaviour, no putdowns,
- Remembering that connecting, listening to and caring for the young people is the most important thing of all but don’t lose sight of the content you are hoping to leave the young people with
2. HELP THE YOUNG PEOPLE NAVIGATE COVID-19
Anxiety is already something our young people and young adults were struggling with prior to COVID19 moving across the world, and now across Aotearoa With all that is occurring right now, and with isolation now our young people’s norm, the mental health of our young people is of real concern We have suggested using online as a means of connecting with our young people because they are a generation so comfortable with this form of communication. The challenge with this means they will be less engaged with the community around them and will find it easier to connect to what is happening across the world and our nation.
- Diocese are all coming up with their own strategies but definitely worth making sure the young people are in the loop and see if they have ideas on how they can connect with what is happening and how they can contribute
- We are not helpless. Prayer is real and something we can all be doing . Invite your whole church community including young people to be praying regularly and specifically around global and local issues that are unfolding because of COVID19 . Here are 2 links worth using – put out by 24/7 so aiming specifically to engage young people but encourage your Diocese to join you www.24-7prayer.com/coronavirusprayer www.chvnradio.com/christian-news/praying-through-a-pandemic-10-specific-prayers-for-responding-to-coronavirus-anxiety ArchBishop Philip is going to be on facebook 7pm every Sunday leading us to join in prayer with others around the world. We are all being invited to light a candle and pray together.
- Create a safe space for young people to share any worries, ask questions. This link answers some questions being asked at the moment (and it’s from Harvard !) – check it out www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-talk-to-teens-about-the-new-coronavirus-2020031419192.
- The question of where is God in human suffering isn’t new and is certainly coming up now. NUA is a free resource that goes there, aimed at Young people – here’s a taster . Revelation 22: 13 says God is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” So good to know we are in His hands and not in this alone. Spend time reminding the young people He is bigger than everything around them.
- Use this as an opportunity to help our young people engage with the Bible Set a passage each week in with your young people/youth group and get the young people using this app (available free @ google play) to take a photo and post their picture with that scripture on it
There are Psalms that help us lament: Psalms 10,57,61
There are Scriptures the bring us comfort: Isaiah 43
There are Scriptures that bring hope and remind us that we have a God greater than everything Psalm 121
And there is really good advice :Hebrews 10: 22-25 which is why we are encouraging connecting inline!!
“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (The Message)
This link https://www.facebook.com/TheDailyOffices/ takes you to a site set up by Adjust, a group of young adults in Auckland, where Scriptures and liturgy, prayers are lead 3 times a day.
3. Other Information
- It is so important to keep our young people safe and with the statistics showing young people already struggle with Mental Health and suicide.
The need to build a sense of connection over this period of time, the need to help them find their hope and purpose and engage with their Creator is vital. The best thing we can do here is to create a space for young people to express how they are feeling and to be straight up with them if we have any concerns for their safety. While confidentiality is important if you have concerns for the safety for a young person or others, seek help. Be aware of who is supporting you and what your plan and protocol is in your Youth Ministry, in your Parish, Your Diocese so you can activate it easily. Different support is readily available to you. Live for tomorrow has been set up specifically to support people journeying with young people. If you are doing youth ministry within the Anglican Church setting you have Diocesan Youth Enablers as well as your Vicars and Vestry. You don’t need to feel overwhelmed. If feeling concerned? Contact those supporting you and Activate your plan/protocol and share your concerns.
- Encourage young people to establish a pattern and purpose to their days, intentionally creating time away from being online With schools being closed and our young people isolated at home all day, many/most with access to unlimited internet there are 2 areas of concern and something to discuss with the young people before they become problems
Research is showing similar neuroimaging for people gaming and drug addicted!!! True story! Gaming is genuinely fun for a lot of people and a great way to socialise – explore with the young people what rhythms could be set that prevent this becoming excessively consuming. And also how can it be done safely?
Pornography is a silent worldwide endemic. With 64% of 13-24 year olds already actively seeking out porn while they juggle school, Uni, work imagine how hard it will be with all this time at home and the internet as their main form of distraction Jo Robertson sums it up really well in her TED talk
Closing Message from Lorna National Youth Facilitator Tikanga Pakeha
We are in a unique time. You are reading this because you have the privilege of journeying alongside young people in this huge yet also precious season. As our young people and as we are stripped back from the noise and pace of normal life.
You are right there beside them Able to connect – committed to praying -and God can and will use you to make a very real difference.
Good tools – Preparation – Connecting all go a long way as you walk with our young people But let Prayer and Worship undergird it all, and be the foundation you build everything on
Here are some links to some worship songs that you could use personally and with your young people
As you walk and pray with your young people – Know you are being prayed for too.
And to end From A New Zealand Prayer Book:
God of the present moment
God who is Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart
Bring hope and courage to all of us as we wait in uncertainty
Bring hope that you will make us the equal to whatever lies ahead
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided
For your will is health and wholeness
You are God and we need you
Blessings – Kia kaha