Friday, November 6, 2020

Youth Empowered - Welcome Empower Team

This week’s post is a continuation of our series that is exploring the digital side of student-led youth ministry, where we are releasing a new chapter of Youth Empowered for free, right here on Focusing on Jesus! Tune in each week to read a new portion of the chapter as we explore Empower Teams through a digital lens.

Welcome Empower Team 
While it may be too soon to begin to understand what impact the Covid-19 lockdowns have had on our students’ faith through the year 2020, the events surrounding the virus have been commonly referred to as an amplifier for the underlying challenges that were already present. Whether it be political tension, social justice awareness, mental health concerns, or even the dangers of addictions, it ends up feeling like the world’s problems have collectively placed a foot upon the gas pedal of hardship and accelerated everything to full speed. And while we know that Jesus still is the solution of the world’s turmoil, do our teenagers know this in their hearts, and do they understand how important this is for their friends as well?

If encouraging students to outright preach the gospel to their friends, it can feel awkward or forced if students are trying not to offend their peers or create unnecessary tension within their relationships. For a population of teenagers that are craving relational truth, interpersonal and testimonial-based evangelism may instead be an approach that is more preferred. Yet in the case where a student wants to share the gospel with their friend but is uncertain on how to approach them, then what can they do? Naturally, any youth worker would jump in and enthusiastically encourage the student to invite their friend to check out the next youth ministry event happening at their church. Yet such a move may be easier said than done.

As mentioned in Youth Empowered, the thing that students often guard more than their own thoughts and emotions is access to their friends list. In other words, students will not invite their friends until they have confidence that their church will care for their guests as much as (or more than) they can. After all, who would want to invite their best friend to a youth ministry service where the pastor makes the guest feel ashamed or where other students ignore them? If that guest is a non-believer, there’s a chance they may end up walking away from the event wondering why they were invited to begin with.

It is here where a Welcome Empower Team can be one of the most impactful Empower Teams for 2020’s relationally starved teens. Accessible, fun, and easy to connect with, members of the Welcome Empower Team have a natural desire to get to know others because they have a genuine love for people. Such individuals have a fascinating ability to disarm those with even the roughest of personalities, and they likely will exhibit similar qualities to the type of person that we referred to as a “person of peace” from the Leadership Empower Team. Their infectious enthusiasm and ability to take things in stride can make a guest feel like the most important individual in the room, an experience they won’t soon forget.

By quickly creating community within a digital environment, members of the Welcome Empower Team are some of the best individuals to make the church’s youth ministry into the type of environment that students will want to return to. If your youth ministry has a social media event, the Welcome Empower Team can banter with attendees before the event gets started by asking other students fun trivia questions within the chat. Party games like Jackbox or Among Us can create laughs and lasting memories for students who find enjoyment in video games. Or even a quick online icebreaker can help individuals to get to know one another better. By encouraging youth to actively welcome and engage their fellow peers, it can be a critical step in helping students to transition away from being mere consumers of ministry. As we navigate more towards being active partners with students, it is moments like these that can empower them to discover what the Holy Spirit might be doing among those that He has placed in their care, as well as how they can join in and contribute to the growth of their youth ministry.

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