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Recommendations for Youth Ministry Online Gatherings
The last few weeks have certainly been a hectic and uncertain time. Parish life and youth ministry programming have been turned on their heads in many ways given the stay-at-home orders that impact communities throughout the country. But the mission of Jesus and the church continues! We have seen how many parishes have responded to the pandemic with innovation and creativity by live-streaming their Masses and gathering virtually. The Center for Ministry Development is here to journey with you as you continue your ministry to accompany young people and their families in new ways.
In this article, you will find resources, tips, and strategies for conducting gathered youth nights in an online setting. These are practical recommendations that you and your ministry leaders can use to make your virtual gatherings with young people more engaging.
- DO leverage the best features and dynamics of online meetings.
- You will not be able to replicate every aspect of a physical in-person meeting in an online setting. Be discerning about what information can be shared or activities can best be delivered on and off your online gathering.
- DO get familiar with your video conferencing platform and its features.
- Zoom - https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials
- GoToMeeting - https://www.gotomeeting.com/get-started
- Cisco Webex - https://help.webex.com/en-us/8bzter/Cisco-Webex-Meetings-Video-Tutorials
- Google Meet - https://support.google.com/a/users/answer/9282720?hl=en
- Join.me - https://www.join.me/resources
- Facebook Rooms - https://about.fb.com/news/2020/04/introducing-messenger-rooms/
- DO familiarize yourself with your diocesan safe environment policies and guidelines. You can also read about some of the best practices for two-way video and audio communications in a youth ministry setting here.
- DO prepare your prayer space.
- Prepare slides with images or Scripture readings for visual aids. If you would like to invite young people to proclaim the readings, assign them to read a certain line. Avoid reading or reciting prayers simultaneously. The lag time (though minimal in most cases) makes for awkward and clunky prayer experiences.
- Avoid using music during the online meeting. The quality of the sound is usually poor. Try sending a YouTube music video of the song before your online meeting and refer to the song lyrics or chorus during your prayer.
- DO use an icebreaker/community builder in your online gathering.
- You can go low tech and have young people go on home scavenger hunts or charades. Alternatively, you can also go high tech and use online or screen games.
- Depending on the video conferencing platform and the size of your group, consider using the breakout rooms to create small groups.
- DO provide some task or activity to happen outside of the online gathering.
- Considering sharing a music video for their reflection before your online gathering. Provide a scripture reading or social media challenge for young people to complete your next online meeting.
For more on how to minister to young people during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the collection of resources at the NFCYM (https://nfcym.org/covid19/) or the Fuller Youth Institute (https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/covid19).
Helpful Online Resources and Articles
During this time, we are ALL called to minister to young people and each other. We are here to assist you in light of the changes brought about by COVID-19.