Time To Innovate: Kids & Youth Ministries

Last week, Life.Church Innovation Pastor Bobby Gruenwald sat down with Vince Parker and Justin Edge, LifeKids and Youth Ministry Leaders at Life.Church, to talk about how we, as pastors, can innovate in Next Generation ministries during this season.

We believe that we’re going to see some of the most innovative ideas come out of the Church in this season. We’re not doing Church the way we did before, and that’s okay. As you’re feeling the weight of this, be encouraged! You’re reaching people in your communities and helping where you can. You’re feeling the pressure of physical constraints and finances. Allow these constraints to motivate you, not stall you. The significant needs and constraints are what create the right ingredients for innovation!

Innovating in Kids Ministry

Life.Church’s LifeKids content is designed to promote community with kids. In our attempt to make this curriculum the best it could be for online use, we knew we couldn’t replicate what we do physically on the weekend in LifeKids classes. We had to think outside of the box, and look at what could be practical for a family to do together at home. We stripped a lot away and condensed some things. But the one thing that remained was this conviction around the idea of community. So we kept the parts that promoted this the most and added conversation questions at the end of lessons so that families could interact together online.

Access These LifeKids Online Tools Today!

Innovating in Youth Ministry

When Life.Church first hosted an online youth experience two years ago, we tried to replicate a youth experience. As we transitioned from a game to a time of worship, we realized we had lost half of our audience. This is when we realized it would be helpful to change what we were doing. We couldn’t do the same thing online that we would do during a youth experience. We had to shift our thinking towards creating healthy online engagement. From that point forward, this was our goal.

We know that Gen-Z are publishers. They’re looking for opportunities to get information out into the world. They’re engaging with information unlike any other generation. So we know that we had to produce different spaces where they could publish information.

3 Simple Ways to Engage With Students:

  1. Tik Tok — Youth Pastors can issue TikTok challenges with students.
  2. YouTube — Premiere videos on YouTube. The great thing about YouTube is that videos don’t need to be heavily produced. Equipment doesn’t matter. Students are watching and engaging with even the simplest of videos.
  3. Instagram — You only need a mobile device to go live on Instagram. It’s important for us to use these platforms to truly ask students how they’re doing.

Adults and students alike are hungry right now for real, genuine community. They don’t want to see big production — they want to feel an intimate connection with their pastor or leader.

The idea for using any of the social media platforms out there, is to create a space where students can engage as if they were face-to-face, in person with their pastor. Adults and students alike are hungry right now for real, genuine community. This makes simplicity desirable! They don’t want to see big production — they want to feel an intimate connection with their pastor or leader. The simpler the better. Forget the polished-ness — just be YOU to your students in this season.

Access These Online Tools From Switch!

Innovating in Small Groups

Whether young kids or teenagers, at Life.Church, we highly value small groups. Interpersonal relationships are important to every kids and youth ministry. No matter the size of your ministry, you have small group leaders that are leading the way with these children. But we know that most of these incredible leaders aren’t regularly doing healthy online engagement with their groups. So in this season, it’s important to engage with our leaders in online community. As pastors, we have to lead by example and encourage leaders to teach their students how to have healthy relationships online.

Helpful Tools to Encourage Healthy Online Relationships:

  • Host a Facebook Live
  • Use a group video chat app. (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, or Facebook Messenger Groups)
  • Host a live Instagram chat
  • Start a Facebook group

As we do ministry online, we’re casting our net to an even wider audience. The reality in this season is that there will be some people that get lost when going from the physical environment to a digital one. But we also know that there will be new people connecting with our churches that we’ve never reached before. As we innovate, we have to think about how we’re going to continue to capture this audience when church does go back to meeting in a physical building. Are we doing things now that we can sustain? Are we spurring on interaction, conversation, and connection with our audience and not just viewership?

As fellow pastors, we want to encourage you in this season to take both the constraints and the resources that you have — whether it’s people in your church or creative people on your staff — and leverage those in this moment to reinvent the way that you do church. God is already using so much in this season and the Church is going to come out stronger for it! We can’t miss the opportunities that we have right now to create and try new things, improve upon things we were already doing, and just go out there and reinvent church!

Click here to watch the Facebook Live event Time To Innovate: Kids & Youth Ministries.

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