5 tools to take your youth group online
You can keep meeting together, even while social distancing!
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many youth groups are making the decision to suspend their in-person programs. That’s going to mean over the next few weeks or months, youth leaders need to figure out how they can keep encouraging and discipling young people in new ways.
So, we’ve gathered five tools you can use to transition your youth group to meeting online. Take a look!
1. Video conferencing
Video conferencing apps will allow your group members to see one another’s faces and receive teaching input even when they can’t meet in person. Top recommendations for video conferencing include Zoom (free for groups of up to 100 with a 40 minute limit per meeting, or around $21 per month for unlimited meeting duration) or Skype (free for groups up to 50).
If you’re hosting a video conference meeting, we recommend sending out a link and/or relevant installation information to youth at least 48 hours before meeting, so they can get set up and set aside the time.
2. Safe chatting apps
You’ll want all the young people in your group to stay in touch with each other, but what’s a safe way to do that? Well, first things first, steer clear of SnapChat! Instead, we recommend a WhatsApp group chat. This free app is very popular so lots of the young people may already have it. It's also not linked to any particular social media platform.
Note, however, these instructions from WhatsApp:
If you live in a country in the European Economic Area (which includes the European Union), and any other included country or territory (collectively referred to as the European Region), you must be at least 16 years old (or such greater age required in your country) to register for and use WhatsApp.
If you live in any other country except those in the European Region, you must be at least 13 years old (or such greater age required in your country) to register for and use WhatsApp.
Remember: keeping communication public is really important for ensuring our Christian communities are safe and above reproach. Make sure any group chat that contains leaders has at least two leaders present at all times. Take screenshots of any messages you send or receive, or include a senior staff member from your church in the chat for accountability.
3. Online video Bible studies
If you aren’t able to give or talk or run small groups, you’ll still want the young people in your church to receive encouragement and teaching. Video Bible studies offer your youth a way to engage with God’s word with minimal prep from you (which may be important at this unprecedented time).
Check out Fervr Plus for a library of curated, theologically sound video Bible studies and talks. We also recommend The Bible Project on YouTube for engaging videos that really unpack some of the big themes and confusing books of the Bible.
4. Bible apps
The YouVersion Bible app allows people to create groups who read the Bible together. This would be perfect for encouraging your youth group to remain in God’s word even when unable to meet together. There is a limit of 150 friends on a plan so make sure to split into smaller groups if your youth group is particularly large. This article contains instructions for setting this up.
5. Prayer apps
There are several apps out there that help people pray together and share prayer points. PrayerMate is one such app (which also enables you to subscribe to prayer points from organisations, your church, etc.). Check out their info page on PrayerMate Share. Note that setting up more than three prayer groups will incur a cost of around $20 per month.
While this all may seem difficult, remember the words of Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We may not be able to “meet” together literally, but we can still meet online, and spur one another on, encourage each other and look forward to the return of Jesus together. The Fervr team are praying for you!