5 Youth Worker Anxieties In The Pandemic Culture
Over the last few weeks, my fellow YS Coaches and I have been honored to share conversations with several youth ministers revolving around the challenges created doing ministry in this unique, pandemic climate.
Because each context and person are unique, I am not going to place a nice bow on these anxieties. I will point to resources but refuse the temptation to color a gloomy situation in bright “everything will be fine” colors. Why? Most of you reading this post have a belief that, no matter what, our Father has this. You would be correct in this confidence.
However, what you and I really need to hear in this moment is you are not alone.
Let me share 5 of the most often mentioned anxieties in our sessions.
We are anxious about losing our jobs.
Sadly, some of our peers have already lost their jobs and are facing an uncertain future. Several, with the hit Covid-19 is having on church budgets/giving, have concerns as to whether they will be able to keep their jobs. The anxiety is real. For some of our younger, rookie youth ministers; the job they have been offered has been rescinded because there is no longer any room in the budget for another hire.
We are anxious about feeling alone.
Alone for two reasons. One, at times, youth ministers have felt like they had to defend what they “do” as youth workers. One thing we have not had to defend is our knowledge, real or perceived, of the inner workings of social media and other online platforms. It is assumed we know everything about cyberspace. With the overnight turn towards online production, youth ministers are not only finding ways to connect with students, but also being asked to produce online content for the entire church community. This has led many youth ministers to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It is hard to communicate to a senior leader, who has no idea of the time it can take to produce quality online material, that the load is just too much. And two, coming from the other extreme, some youth ministers do not have the bandwidth (literally) to produce or carry out any kind of online presence without awkward frozen screens or dropped connections. Youth workers are seeing all of the awesome content being dropped for online connection and watching other youth ministers and ministries having a blast, but they can’t, literally, enjoy the connection.
We are anxious about resources.
Fortunately, this is the easiest of anxieties to relieve (check out previous blogs on ALL the great resources coming of our Youth Specialties, DYM, Orange and other youth ministry partners). Still, if you are not aware of the resources, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with figuring how to develop community when the community is unable to assemble.
We are anxious about the “Why Questions.”
This is perhaps the greatest anxiety of the 5. Combating Covid-19 has brought about social distancing and shelter in place guidelines. The typical markers of “successful youth ministry” have been removed. The typical marker of “successful relationships” have been removed. And the proximity in which we are living, comes with its own challenges.
Translation, we have a lot of time on our hands to think.
Time to think about why we do what we do, live how we live, and act the way we act. Seriously, there is a great deal of good that can come from the season of “why?” in which we are living. But, the process leads to heightened anxiety and, at times, eruptions of frustration.
We are anxious about rest.
We run at such a high speed, ignoring rest and sabbath. So, when a hard stop to our busyness occurs, we become anxious. We feel guilty for having extra time on our hands. We feel pressure to fill every moment with online calls, games, and teaching. We know we are tired, but we press on because we are anxious about the extra time in our day that has been discovered. Oh, and confront the anxiety of the “why questions.” If we rest, we think, and if we think, we begin to ask questions, and…. You get the picture.
All of these 5 Anxieties have been address in coaching and, at one level or another, have made their way into the heart of coaches.
Now, everyone breath and embrace this truth, you are not alone. Youth Specialties is here, your fellow youth ministers are here, and the Lord is walking this road with us.
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.