3 Trends To Keep In Mind For The Fall

Jen Willard
August 31st, 2021

As we go into the Fall of 2021, many of us see that there are new trends growing in our ministries. You might have experienced something new with your students over the summer or you might have heard of something new and exciting another youth leader has been doing in a different city. While some teen culture trends might not translate well to our ministries, others might help us to reach students right where they are. Here are 3 trends that might help your ministry this season.

Un-Plan Your Events

Many students are excited to see what “normal” will look like this Fall as some return to school and other activities. While you might be considering planning the grandest event in town to welcome back your students this year, many students are looking for a more personal connection to our events. Some are calling this a focus on relationships rather than programming, but it is important to remember that programming and planning aren’t the enemy. Youth leaders may just have to learn how to include moments for deep connection between our students and volunteers in every worship service or event that we plan. 

You may need to learn how to un-plan times during events and create space for students to build face-to-face relationships again with their peers and trusted adults. For some, this might mean some intentional space during your gatherings where you purposefully create a time for students to be social with those around them. You might consider a time of sharing food together, trying something new as a group, or simply gathering with several students around some board game. 

Fine Tune Your Virtual Ministry

As you probably already know, students have developed a deep dislike for online meetings, especially the ones where their faces would be shown on a camera. If you have had any trouble connecting with students online, you may feel the sudden urge to drop online communication entirely since, in many places, people are beginning to come back together. However, our students aren’t retreating entirely from social media and other forms of communication; they are simply showing us what kind of online communication is still essential. Students across the country are finding new and meaningful ways to connect online that churches shouldn’t ignore.

Students are still online, social media apps are still growing in popularity, and we still have to find ways to communicate with students. It may be tempting to completely forget about the spaces that students currently inhabit online because youth leaders have had some bad experiences trying to connect with students. However,  this is the exact time that we should take what we have learned from the past year and apply those principles into our preparation for the Fall. While students are headed back into school structures, many of them will have less freedom to connect with us in-person during the upcoming months. Don’t forget about your students who might be excited to see you continue your creative video game ministry or social media posts throughout the upcoming months. 

Share in Difficult Conversations

Another trend, that is only growing in popularity, is that students want to discuss personal and social issues in public and private conversation now more than ever. Healthy and bold student ministries will cover difficult to discuss, relatable conversations, centered around faith, and explore practical ways to live out conclusions to these conversations. Students desire conversations about mental health, racial reconciliation, sexuality, political policies, practical ways to love others, and so much more. If you cringed at the thought of having those conversations with your youth, please know that if our churches cannot find space to host these conversations with love within the context of the church, we will soon be uninvited from these difficult conversations. 

Youth leaders everywhere need to lean into this trend and find space to hold empathy for the perspectives and experiences of our students. While we may find it hard to see where our students are coming from, we sometimes have to practice being a hearer as much as we are teachers. If we are willing to listen and sit with care in our hearts for our students, we will be able to hold Gospel centered conversations around the topics they are praying for us to address. 

Jen Willard

Jen Willard is currently the full time Youth Pastor at church near Little Rock, AR. She loves continually learning about ministry and is a graduate of Nazarene Theological Seminary’s MDiv program. Jen loves drinking coffee and traveling to new places with her husband Bryan. Follow her on Instagram at @duckjd.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.