We ran this liveblog from March to May 2020 to help youth leaders respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. All the content shared can still be accessed and searched for via the sidebar.
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It's been a busy week for the Research team! Our latest research report, We do God, has been released. It's all about youth ministry and spiritual practices, and you can read about it here (including free sample download), or purchase digital/hard copy versions of it here.
All that is to say, there's much Research goodness for you to enjoy, but there's no Thursday 3x3 survey this week. Sorry. See you next week!
We’re into the sixth week of lockdown but our liveblog is still going strong. Here are the highlights you may have missed from the last week.
- There’s been a couple of incredible blog posts appear over the last seven days. Both Martin's Order out of chaos: Creating a Rule of Life and Rachel’s Is TV's Sex Lockdown "Too Hot to Handle?" are definitely worth checking out!
- Mark Arnold was a guest on the Friday podcast and provided some great insights into the challenges many young people with additional needs are facing right now and the best ways youth workers can support them.
- The last in our series of quarantine ideas was published this week; the last post was all about how to run a quiz night with your youth group while in lockdown. The complete series is available on the blog and provides ideas and inspirations for how to plan fun social activities for your group to do together online.
- Multiple posts came out this week highlighting a range of different online resources and training, for example, Soul Survivor's Loud & Clear course and Dreaming the Impossible's online youth leader gathering.
- Lastly, if you're concerned about the vulnerable young people in your community, do check out the new report released today by the National Youth Agency. It talks through concerning situations many young people are facing as a result of the pandemic and emphasises the need for a clear exit strategy for young people who are likely to be included in the early stages of release.
As always, we want to thank you so much for your support and if there’s something you’d love to see or even something you want to contribute in coming weeks please get in touch!
Dreaming the Impossible are holding a free online gathering for youth workers on Monday 11th May at 7.30pm. They'll have the brilliant Dr Kate Middleton and Matt Summerfield speaking on the topic of: "Leading Young People Through Covid-19". It promises to be an inspiring evening. Sign up here!
Welcome back to the mid-week round-up – bringing you liveblog highlights from the last seven days just in case there’s anything you’ve missed.
- We’re a few weeks into lockdown and the exhaustion of constant video calls is starting to take hold. Will Van Der Hart from the Mind and Soul Foundation articulated what so many of us are feeling his recent blog post ‘Telephone Empathy’. The article is full of insights and reflections on the exhaustion of video calls. There’s also a load of useful tips which are beneficial for youth leaders to read through and to recommend to any young people who are struggling with the beginnings of digital burnout.
- The theme of being tired of life online continued in Youthscape Podcast Special #10 where Martin and Rachel discuss ‘screen fatigue’ and how young people might try and reclaim online spaces.
- Many new resources appeared on the blog this week from several different organisations covering a variety of topics. While only a few are highlighted here, it is definitely worth scrolling through the blog to see what other excellent resources have been posted. Church Army has created a booklet titled: "Death, grief and hope", aimed at helping support young people during Covid-19. Premier Youth and Children's Work have published a really helpful article, by Mark Arnold, about how to help children/young people with additional needs to understand Coronavirus. Lastly, Youthscape released the final session in the online Together Apart series. All sessions are still available on the liveblog and provide comprehensive session plans to enable youth leaders to run a traditional youth group model online.
- Youthscape's Head of Theology, Dr Phoebe Hill, has written a blog exploring the dangers of "theologising" a crisis. The blog is inspired by a current area of research into theological reflections in youth ministry. The research team is asking for youth leaders – both employed and voluntary – to join with them on this project by filling in a survey. By taking the time to complete the survey you’ll also be in with a chance of winning a £100 voucher!
- The weekly Monday report summarised the discoveries of the Thursday 3x3 and provided insights into what youth workers are seeing and experiencing in relational to quarantine struggles, online church and life after lockdown. Please join us on 3pm each Thursday and spend 3 minutes answering 3 questions to help give us a greater understanding of what life is like for youth leaders and young people around the country at this time.
As always, we want to thank you so much for your support and if there’s something you’d love to see or even something you want to contribute in coming weeks please get in touch!
Student Christian Movement (SCM) are holding part 2 of their series: "Preparation in Exile: How do we help young people prepare for university during Covid-19?" - an open discussion for youth workers, church leaders, Chaplains and those involved in further education. Tune in on Wednesday 22nd April from 11.30am via Zoom.
Are you planning to get some extra training in during this time? Esteem Acet UK are running a four-day accredited Relationships and Sex Education Training programme online. You'll learn how to:
- Support young people in building self-esteem
- Support young people in developing healthy relationships
- Develop confidence in talking openly and sensitively about sexual health issues
- Support young people to develop skills and resilience to deal with the influence and impact of modern technology on relationships and sex (including porn)
- Communicate to young people the importance of making healthy life choices about sex
- Plan and deliver effective, fun and interactive sessions with young people
- Apply best practice and recommended government policy guidelines
They are also posting out a pack of physical resources to use during the training, including #isitOK?, the sexting resource that Youthscape and Esteem Acet UK worked on together.
Things have been a little quieter this week with the bank holidays on Friday and Monday and people taking time off to celebrate Easter. That being said there’s still been some great content on the liveblog and, like last week, we want to bring you the highlights of posts you might have missed:
- It’s been great to see whole organisations embrace life online and so encouraging to see both Princeton Theological Seminary and The National Youth Agency bring events and training on to a digital platform. On Wednesday 29th April, Princeton Theological Seminary's Institute for Youth Ministry is running a Digital Forum on Youth Ministry titled "Revisioning Youth Ministry: Failure, Grief, and Hope". This is set to be an informative and engaging event designed to bring support and encouragement to youth leaders on a personal level, as well as in a professional capacity, as they seek to minister to young people during this challenging time. Before then, The National Youth Agency is holding a free webinar over Zoom about how to do detached youth work during Covid-19. The event takes place this Friday, 17th April, from 2-3pm.
- Unfortunately, several Christian conferences have had to cancel this year due to the current circumstances. However, Spring Harvest Festival have put together a completely free, online Christian conference, available for anyone via their Youtube channel. There are talks, devotionals and worship all around the theme of “Unleashed – The Acts Church Today" and it’s definitely worth checking out.
- Dr Lucie Shuker, Director of the Youthscape Centre for Research, released a very interesting Monday Report which examined youth leaders’ responses to questions about flouting, furlough and finding new connections. The research team are doing weekly 3x3 questions (3 minutes, 3 questions, every week at 3 o'clock) and your input in those surveys is greatly appreciated. We've changed the day to Thursday, to give you a bit more time! Find out more about this research in this week's podcast.
- We've released the latest in our "Together Apart: youth work online" series. We've been creating free, easy to use session plans for your youth work. Find the latest one here.
Again, we want to thank you so much for your support and if there’s something you’d love to see or even something you want to contribute in coming weeks please get in touch!
Youth leaders! Do you know any young people who are passionate about issues around social justice and making a difference? Tearfund has created a new online course to help train young influencers.
On their website, it says: "Emerging Influencers is a six-week leadership programme for 17-23-year-olds that connects you with like-minded game changers, helps you develop a theological understanding of justice and equips you to positively impact people living in poverty facing the coronavirus pandemic."
Young people can apply here - it will start on Monday 4th May and will include webinars, mentoring, opportunities for fundraising, and being part of an online community. If you know anyone who'd be interested, why not encourage them to apply?
Spring Harvest Festival was due to take place this week, but due to the lockdown, they have had to cancel. But they have pulled together to create Spring Harvest Home - a completely free, online Christian conference, available for anyone. On their YouTube channel, you'll find talks, worship and devotionals for all age groups. The theme this year is “Unleashed – The Acts Church Today". There's lots of material for your youth group to enjoy together. Check it out!
Unite714 is a prayer initiative across churches, denominations and countries to pray at 7:14 twice a day, morning and evening, for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and for God's healing power. You can find more info and the prayers to download each week here. Why not encourage the young people you work with to join in? The inspiration is 2 Chronicles 7:14:
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chron 7:14)
The National Youth Agency is holding a free webinar over Zoom about how to do detached youth work during Covid-19. They've invited Graeme Tiffany and Emily Collinsbeare from the Federation for Detached Youth Work to speak. It's happening on Friday 17th April from 2-3pm and you can find all the details here.
YourNeighbour.org is bringing together churches and groups to help their local communities. They are also calling as many people as possible to sign an Easter pledge. This is from their website:
"With Easter this weekend, we want to get the message far and wide that the Church is here for the nation. This Easter we are asking 1000 UK Church leaders to publicly commit to supporting their local communities, to bring a message of hope, so that no-one will be alone, without the help they need, during the COVID-19 crisis."
You can get involved on their website. Happy Easter to you all!
’It’s no accident the Gospels tell us that, as Jesus was dying, it grew dark in the middle of the day. Few images are more telling. As Jesus hung upon the cross, seemingly, light gave way to darkness, love to hatred, and life to death. How can that be good?’(Ron Rolheiser)
Tonight we’re praying for hope to be planted and nurtured in our churches and communities.
On today’s Youthscape podcast, Andy Winmill from Urban Devotion Birmingham shared how as a team they've had to re-imagine themselves so that they can still stand alongside young people. His stories from the frontline of supporting vulnerable young people at this time are full of sorrow, as well as deep love. Tonight’s compline is taken from his words, which you can hear in full on the podcast.
‘As the Good Friday story unfolds doubt creeps into the minds of believers. They had seen Jesus feed a crowd from crumbs and silence a storm with the authority of His words. Their mindset had shifted to “You’ve got this”. This certainty faded into darkness.
Perhaps doubt crept into the mind of Jesus. “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?”
I wonder whether doubt has crept into your mind these past few weeks and this doubt has turned into fear? Have there have been times over the past few weeks where you haven’t known what to do? When the burden of responsibility has weighed heavily. When others have looked to you for direction and you’ve not been sure which way is up. Doubt quickly turns to fear.
Fear has it’s critics but it’s a helpful emotion. Fear saves lives. Adrenalin rushes through our bodies, causing us to steer away from danger. But what happens if we don’t see the danger to steer away from, we can’t formulate a plan of action. So often our brains go into overdrive and we end up either numbed or hyperactive. We end up buying excessive amounts of toilet paper. We burst into tears at the most delicate trigger.
The apostle John says that perfect love casts out fear. It doesn’t suppress fear, it doesn’t silence fear, it doesn’t ignore fear. It casts it out. Fear at it’s worst causes us to pull away. Love calls us to draw in.
‘Good’ Friday; it’s a strange title. It’s the biggest spoiler of all time but only those of us who know the ending can see through the bad to the good. In the moment it can feel as though we are in a horror movie when we know this is the most incredible love story.
Now in 2020, in the great lockdown, the detail is still being worked out. It’s important that we name our fear. We don’t suppress it. We don’t silence it. We don’t ignore it. And then we invite Love to cast it out.’
You know where my fears might be causing me to doubt your love or pull away from your presence. Thank you that even before I name my fears, you know them and you invite me to allow your Love to cast them out. Help me not to let fear pull me away from the young people you’re calling me to stand alongside, however that looks. Even with all the changes and limitations, I’m facing, help me to figure out a way to show love to the young people and the communities around me. Thank you that as I look to the cross, I see a God who doesn’t stand aloof from pain and suffering, but steps into the mess, the hopelessness, the contagion and the despair, to be the Light of the world. May your Spirit fall this Easter, and may your church rise to be beacons of light and sharers of your love.
Princeton Theological Seminary's Institute for Youth Ministry are running a Digital Forum on Youth Ministry on Weds 29th April. The title of the event is: "Revisioning Youth Ministry: Failure, Grief, and Hope".
The leaders include Kenda Creasy Dean and Eric Barreto. Small group leaders include Aqueelah Ligonde, Marcus Hong, Kermit Moss, Erin Raffety, Shari Oosting, Erik Leafblad, and more.
Girls’ Brigade Ministries is releasing weekly activity sheets suitable for any children and young people, not just Girls’ Brigade community group members, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resources are part of a free resource zone open to all on the charity’s new website, which only launched last month.
GB Ministries (GBM) Director Jules Murdy says "We're in a strange new world right now but GB still wants to provide hope and fun for all children and young people. So, we’re really pleased to be able to offer these GB@home resources to enable children and young people to have access to positive, hope-filled, materials during the time they’re restricted to home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We hope both GB leaders and parents find the resources easy to use and share."
The activity sheets are aimed at 4 age groups – 4 to 8s, 7 to 11s, 10 to 14s, and 13 to 18s – and include activities such as games, craft, Bible studies, and discussion points. There is also a free certificate template to download and print to celebrate children and young people’s achievements as they use the resources.
The new GBM website aims to showcase all of GBM’s projects; from the popular Koko blog to the 450 community groups.
The site also contains a tool mapping where all the GB community groups are, and the resource zone also shares programme materials that any youth workers and churches could use on topics such as loss, friendship, and kindness.
Another two major youth events which had been planned for this Summer have been cancelled. Organisers of Elim’s Limitless, and Vineyard churches’ Dreaming the Impossible events - which were due to share a site at the Staffordshire showground - both announced their cancellation this week. The news means that virtually every major Christian event planned for spring or summer 2020 has now been called off.
Limitless Director Tim Alford released a video statement on Wednesday, explaining that due to the situation surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak, the event would be postponed until 6-10 August 2021. Meanwhile Dreaming the Impossible’s Susie Aldridge and Zeke Rink recorded a similar statement to say that their event would similarly move to the same venue, from 31st July-4th August 2021. Ticket-holders to both events can have their 2020 bookings automatically transferred to next Summer.
The announcements follow similar cancellations from Big Church Day Out, Spring Harvest, New Wine, HTB Focus and more. The current social distancing regulations, which are expected to stay in force for some time to come, have effectively rendered such gatherings impossible.
"When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, 'I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God’". (Luke 22:14-16)
Today, on Maundy Thursday, ‘Table of the Lord’ is released – a song written to reflect how, through the cross, Jesus made a way for us to be in eternal relationship with the Father. We’re invited to a feast by his grace and, as the lyrics say, we’re in awe of all you’ve done Lord.
"We're not keeping this to ourselves, we're passing it along to the next generation - God's fame and fortune, the marvellous things he has done." (Psalm 78:4 MSG)
Tonight we’re praying for churches to have a greater desire and capacity to connect with and serve young people, during this lockdown and beyond.
Young people growing up in church need a safe space to grow in their faith. They’re living in a world where being a Christian makes them the odd one out and which is often critical, even hostile, to that faith.
Beyond the church, young people in our communities are growing up in a world where there are hardly any opportunities to explore the big questions of life or get help to face the pressures of being a teenager.
One hundred years ago, nearly 80% of young people were connected with a church where some of that could happen. Now it’s less than 3%.
Lots of churches long to find ways to meaningfully connect with young people - but they’re not sure how. Let’s pray that churches find, through prophetic imagination, creative ways to connect with young people and draw them closer to God.
Thank you, God, for calling your church to tell of your great deeds to the emerging generations. We pray that while church leaders across our nation engage in new ways to ‘do’ church, that there will be a growing desire to reach emerging generations. We pray that entire churches will be equipped to reach young people. We pray for an unleashing of resources into youth ministry and for you to raise up a wave of your people, eager to reach, serve, champion and disciple young people.
The Methodist Church has collected some resources for Holy Week at home for families and individuals. Their Children, Youth and Families team have created a Holy Week journal for young people, which you can find here. There are also creative ideas for how to engage with Maundy Thursday at home.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." (Psalm 34:18 NLT)
Tonight we’re praying for young people who are living closer to uncertainty, risk and suffering during the lockdown. Some are experiencing a ‘double lockdown’ by living in households or families where they are at greater risk of being hurt, abused or neglected by those they are having to self-isolate with. Some young people will be witnessing increased violence between people in their households.
Some young people will be staying with neighbours or other relatives as one or both parents are key workers and have been deployed to areas of very high risk.
Some young people have friends or family members who have tested positive for covid19. Some young people have already been bereaved. Others will lose loved ones to the virus as the weeks go by.
Ever-present God, thank you that you draw close to those in great need. We ask you to draw close to young people who are facing grief, suffering and uncertainty in their isolation. Keep them under the shadow of your mercy and hold them in their anxiety and fears. May people around them have the skill and wisdom to respond to their needs.
May those in need of protection reach out for help and find the support they need, quickly.
May those who are grieving know your comfort and love.
May those who are anxious for families they are in isolation with or are separate from, know peace in the midst of their fears.