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Adolescence

5 Hacks For Balancing the Digital + Analog World In Youth Ministry

Tom Pounder
September 21st, 2020

In March, when ministries all over went 100% digital there was a moment of excitement. What was possible now in this new world of ministry where in person gatherings were not happening was exhilarating. Sure, it was a stressful situation as well, as no one I saw or talked to had a completely 100% digital ministry.

But it was really exciting to try new things and see what stood out and stuck with students.

Now is a different era of ministry.

While still a lot of what student ministries are doing is online and digital, meeting back in person in responsible ways is happening as well. And that is great!

So how do you balance all the different online and digital ministry strategies you implemented during COVID with the in-person, analog way?

Here are 5 tips. 

You need a balance.

Digital is great and we have all learned a lot about online ministry with students. But the reality is you can’t go all in one or the other. Tweens and teens love online stuff but not all of it. Students need a balance. They need an in person connection as well. 

What can you do online that you can’t do in person? Online game nights, discipleship meetings, parent gatherings all happened and probably had greater success than you imagined they would be. Which of these new online meet ups and gatherings can you keep doing once in person gatherings start? And, what kind of in person gatherings can you safely do that balances out the online connections?

Find the right balance of online and in person gatherings that work best for your ministry so that you can best reach all of your students. 

Think what is sustainable over time.

When you were all in on online, it was easy to do more stuff than you normally did. But now, as you are reopening to some degree (every state is different), you have to balance online with in person gatherings. And, as you add these in person gatherings some of the online meet ups you did may be too much.

Look at what is sustainable long term and implement that balanced strategy.

You do not need to do something everyday just because you can.

Think sustainability long term and see how the balance in your ministry creates cool opportunities for your students to engage. 

New opportunities for service.

Even though this pandemic has changed a lot of what we do in ministry now, it also provides opportunities.

There are now new opportunities for students to serve in ministry roles. They could serve in camera roles, making YouTube or TikTok videos with you, working on an online Bible study group or something else entirely.

While service opportunities have changed from what they once were, these newer opportunities might be more in line with what students are more likely to be comfortable serving in.

Discover what they are for your ministry and see what kind of involvement your students have now.

It’s all about the relationships.

Whether it is online or in person ministry, students crave connections and relationships. They crave relationships with their peers, with leaders and with God (even though they may not initially recognize the God one just yet).

Keep relationships at the forefront of whatever ministry opportunity you choose offer, whether it is online or in person.

The more you can keep your ministry objectives all about the relationships the greater the chance you will find the right balance between online and in person ministry opportunities and impact lives.

Disconnect.

When we went all online the work boundaries got blurred.

After all, being online meant you could be online literally all the time.

There was no check out time of the office.

You were online and stayed online…a lot of us did.

Now, you have to disconnect and create boundaries as to when you will work and when you will refresh and be by yourself or your family.

You need “you” time. You need family time. Work hard but make sure you set up the right boundaries in your life so that you don’t have to work all the time. The better you take care of yourself now the longer you can be in ministry long term. 


This new era of ministry we are in is both exciting and exhausting.

There is still lots to be figured out as the world is constantly changing and what works today is not always going to work tomorrow.

However, if you keep focused on what is best for students by allowing God to guide you as you navigate digital and in person ministry opportunities and you take care of yourself, God is going to be able to use this time in your life and ministry in a mighty way.

Trust Him and see where it leads.  

Tom Pounder

Tom has a background in Student Ministry working over 20 years with teenagers and currently serves as the Student Minister and Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs regularly at YMsidekick.com about student, social and digital ministry strategies.

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.

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