Last week we asked you some questions for the Friday 3x3 – a way to take the temperature of the youth ministry community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every Friday at 3pm we’ll ask three questions which will take you no more than three minutes to answer. We’ve started with a modest 60 responses, so this doesn’t represent the wider community of Christian youth workers – it just gives us a sense of what’s going on.
Here’s what we learned at the end of the first week of lockdown.
1. ALL THE FEELS
We provided a list of 25 emotions and asked you to pick up to three that described how you’d been feeling last week. Of the 60 who responded, the top five emotions reported were as follows. 
Overwhelmed – 38%
Optimistic – 37%
Thankful – 35%
Stressed – 25%
Calm – 20%
We asked you to pick up to three because this is such a turbulent time, and the responses reflect that. It’s not surprising to see that people feel overwhelmed. We have been experiencing something unprecedented and have had to suddenly change our way of life. It’s encouraging to see that, despite stress, there are also feelings of gratitude. We know that thankfulness is crucial for our mental health in times like this, for those with and without faith. We see that both stress and calm show up: perhaps because people picked three that leaned either toward the positive or the negative, or because it’s normal to feel a range of seemingly conflicting emotions. It’s interesting to see optimism here. Perhaps it’s the closest to ‘hopeful’, which wasn’t one of the emotions provided but has theological resonance for many of us.
 Percentage of youth workers who reported experiencing these emotions.
We asked which tools/platforms you used to communicate with young people since Tuesday, and joint top were Instagram posts and Zoom.  Again, this was a small group of respondents, so we can’t take too much from it. But the phrase ‘zoomed out’ has now appeared in our lexicon, reflecting the platform’s meteoric rise in use over the last week and a half. So maybe we can trust the results after all? You know what hadn’t been used by any of our 60 respondents? Skype. Twelve had used email, four had seen young people face-to-face (2m apart) and one had even sent a letter. But no one had used Skype.
Instagram posts – 60%
Zoom (group video call) – 60%
WhatsApp text message – 50%
WhatsApp group chat – 47%
Phone text message – 42%
 Percentage of youth workers who reported using these to communicate with young people.
3. ONLY CONNECT
Our third question was ‘In your own words, what have young people needed from you this week?’
The most frequent answer was connection. Some kind of contact, check-in, acknowledgment or presence in a crazy week. One person said, “knowing someone is thinking of them.” After that were a number of references to fun. This meant the chance to laugh, celebrate a birthday or engage in “usual banter". Some expressed this as entertainment and others as joy. The third most reported need was for reassurance – that it will be ok, that we are still there or that “it's okay to feel a mixture of emotions in these unusual times”. Close behind reassurance was stability, which wasexpressed as normality, consistency, predictability, continuity and familiarity.
Other answers, in order of frequency, were a chance to talk about how they’re feeling and be heard, prayer, encouragement, to connect with other young people, something to do, nothing, information, comfort, distraction and motivation.
Finally, we left some space for general comments. This is a weekly opportunity to share what is on your mind. Thank you to those who took time to let us know. Here is a selection of comments:
“Not quite up to speed and on the ball with how to provide stuff for the youth. Our Friday night group have gone surprisingly quiet on the WhatsApp group chat”.
“The thing that has caught me by surprise is how digitally overloaded I feel. I get to the end of the working day, and the last thing I want to do is join my small group’s zoom call…This morning I woke up to a note that had been stuck on my window by a neighbour, and that felt like one of the most meaningful interactions I’ve had all week.”
“I’d love young people, and the church, to come out of this more relaxed, less busy, less anxious, more in tune and walking in step with the spirit; yet I’ve spent more time on social media this last week than at any other time in my life, and I suspect young people have too.”
“Strange new world. Changing all the time but still we stand on the rock that doesn’t.”
See you next Friday
Thanks to those who took part. Why not put Friday 3pm in your diary and head over to the Coronavirus liveblog blog each week to take part yourself.