As I talked with ministry leaders who care for children and youth in our congregations this week, their love and concern echoed loudly through their prayers. Leaders expressed their desire to stay connected, to find ways to reach out and to let the young among us know that they do not need to be afraid. It was also evident that parents, families, kids, and these faithful leaders are overwhelmed.
Each of us know children and youth who are out of school and trying to adjust to this new normal. We want to help. We want to provide support to their families in meaningful ways. Fantastic educational and ministry resources are being shared all over social media and websites. Ministry leaders are using virtual means that are providing vital opportunities to worship, connect, and focus on God’s Word.
In all of this, I still heard ministry leaders of our youngest disciples share that untangling the many options available is a lot right now. They feel some pressure to share it all and do it all right away. Maybe if you are a parent you feel that way too. This is a time for us to embrace the grace that is offered to us that Jesus freely gives. We must live one day at a time and tap into the resources available as it is possible for us while still doing all the things that will keep our families healthy.
I could share a long list of ideas and resources with you for leading in ministry right now. If that’s what you need, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the Emerging Leaders page on Facebook as we collectively share resources. However, what I believe, and heard from many leaders is most necessary this week is to recognize the anxiety and understandable tensions in the hearts of the young and their families. Therefore, I want to start by offering you two good articles that address this need.
- Managing Fear and Anxiety During a Health Pandemic by Parent Cure
- Naming Loss and Gratitude with Young People During These Uncertain Day by Fuller Youth
Conversations are the most valuable thing we can offer our young people at this time. Listening, validating, offering hope, speaking Truth and demonstrating love with make all the difference. Kids and youth need help processing how they are feeling and what to think about this crisis. We don’t have to have all the answers, obviously we don’t in the midst of the unknown, but we need to provide avenues for them to express themselves during this time. We can equip parents, call kids, send letters and texts, and share Scripture that will remind them that we are with them through all of this right now.
I invite each of us today to simply reach out to a child or youth in our family, church, or community and ask them how they are doing. Listen. Don’t try to give them the answers. Pray with them. Let God use you as a soft voice for the moment. You might be surprised at how it softens your own heart too.