People Over Program
Post Quarantine Connection
by Jonathan McKee
Plenty of bad has happened in the last few months…but I’ve also witnessed plenty of good.
- Families spending more time together
- Young people realizing that face-to-face is better than screen-to-screen
- Youth ministries learning the importance of people over program
When youth groups were forced to stop meeting we were stripped of so many of the basic elements that might have seemed crucial to youth ministry: the youth room, zany games or mixers, the youth worship band, the youth talk…
Funny. All those elements have a lot more to do with program than people.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you that any of those elements are bad or should be eliminated. I’d be the first to argue that games can break down walls and provide fun connections with kids. And youth talks can be key in communicating the Gospel instead of just providing an after-school program.
But we didn’t have any of these things during COVID-19. We just had relationships. Phone calls. Social media conversations. Face-time calls.
“Hey Chris, how are you doing man? How’s your time with your family been? What do you miss the most? What have you learned through this time?”
The interesting thing is, some youth workers are actually experiencing deeper conversation without all the distractions of youth group.
There I go again. Maybe it sounded like I’m discounting the effectiveness of youth group. That’s not my intent. My point is simple:
People are always more important than program.
And sadly, if a kid could slip in and out of the youth meeting, blending in during the zany games, the six worship songs and the youth talk… and no one even noticed? Something is wrong.
It happens all the time.
My sister in law Amy is in youth ministry right now with my brother. The two of them reach mostly unchurched kids in their small town. Amy told me the story of when she first visited a youth group in town (I knew the youth pastor) and in 90 minutes just one person said “hi.” She went home and bawled. Never went back.
If we are too focused on program (I’ve gotta set up these games, let’s practice this worship set one more time and get it perfect, let me just finish the PowerPoint slides on my talk…) that we miss people…we’ve done nothing.
Again, none of these practices: setting up games, practicing worship songs, perfecting a talk) are bad…until they distract us from connecting with kids.
COVID-19 has stripped us of many of these distractions.
ALL WE HAD was the ability to pick up the phone and say, “Hey Jordan, I miss seeing you. How’s it going?”
As quarantines are lifted many of us are returning to normal.
Let’s make it a “new normal.”
Let’s not miss connecting with people.
Play games if they help. Worship. Tell them about Jesus. But people over program…every time.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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