This fall, we are back to church and back to in-person church life. That’s not easy for this youth minister who cultivated and held space on zoom with our youth from March 2020 to May 2021. We took a break, and our comeback for all ministries is September 19.
As I contemplated our youth ministry and the need to build a community with four new seventh graders safely, I thought: we need a big tent. Cincinnati was one of the areas with a large cicada population for a few weeks this summer. I bought a 6’x6’ screen room for my girls to hang out in, and I knew they offered other sizes, the largest being 15’x15’. With staff support and a promise to share, I ordered the large tent. But what about seating?
I decided on black beanbags and ordered metallic markers made for dark surfaces for the teens to decorate their beanbags and doodle on them whenever they want. The beanbags have handles where they can put their names for consistency and easy visibility. Each Sunday, a couple of youth will get the tent and pop it open, and each person will carry their beanbag out. I’ll bring the markers and other materials, and everyone will bring their books each week.
We used three books regularly last program year: Call on Me: a Prayer Book for Young People, Prayer: Forty Days of Practice, and May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer. These books deepened our prayer practices as we followed Jesus in Zoom calls. We and held space for each other each week and deepened our relationship. We plan to continue that relationship building as we welcome our new members and as older members assume leadership roles.
This past Sunday, Calvary celebrated our feast day with “One Service” and a ministry fair, complete with a coffee truck and a cheesecake truck. Most of our youth were there, so they received the latest care package: bean bags, fidget cubes, and copies of the books we use each week for new members.
After the Ministry Fair, one of our youth agreed to test the tent. Our organist snapped this photo of us testing it out. It’s hectic, and it’s coming together. That’s what following Jesus looks like for us right now, and it works for us.
We plan to be outside in our tent no matter the weather, except for lightning. As the weather changes, we’ll add a fire pit. If there’s a small group, maybe we’ll meet in the youth room. But if there are only two youth and they pick up the tent, I’ll follow them.
How are you engaging in worship and formation as a parent, Sunday school teacher, or youth minister? Please share in the comments.
Photo credit: Howard Helvey