In some ways, student ministries and college ministries were the most prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. These ministries serve tech natives. The technological savviness of students allowed them to pivot quickly. A lot of their social engagement is already online.
Even though these ministries serve tech natives, the increased amount of digital interaction still made its mark. Here are a few ways COVID-19 has impacted these next generation ministries:
Anxiety and depression already plague this generation of young people. COVID-19 compounded the problem. This was a big wakeup call for young people to their need for in-person social interactions. Over the course of weeks many churches saw less and less engagement in their midweek groups. Some of this had to do with the mental state of the students they serve.
This also affected ministers. Ministers are called by God to ministry and the main vehicle for that is relationships. During the COVID-19 season their relationships have been radically altered. As you’re reading this some normalcy and in-person social interactions are coming back, but COVID-19 still left an effect on ministers. A lot of ministers faced the same anxiety and depression as their students. They were teaching to phones instead of audiences. They were having coffee meetings over Zoom rather than in a coffee shop. It hurt and still does.
This season also shined a light on the lack of awareness and resources churches have in caring for students when they cannot be present. How can you really care for someone when you can’t be physically present? Churches noticed the importance of in-person social connection in caring. There is only so much care that can be done on an online platform. Several ministries sent cards as a personal touch, but some of that still didn’t seem like enough.
Students were struggling and ministers weren’t able to comfort like they wanted. Students were graduating, but no usual celebration was to be had. Churches tried their best, but it wasn’t like it used to be.
Digital is Vital
Churches realized there was ministry to be had on the fringes. Churches discovered students on the fringes that would never participate would participate through an online platform for games and other interactive nights. Churches began focusing on becoming digitally savvy and new students were tuning in for devos and times of worship.
The church’s eyes were opened to a whole new world and a new fantastic point of view. This season has shown next generation ministries that digital is vital and more young people can be reached. Digital can no longer be second class in terms of ministry platforms, but it is important as the church moves forward.