Unifying Youth Workers in the Midst of Tragedy

Jacob Eckeberger
July 8th, 2016

This week, our nation is reeling from the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas Police Officers who were shot during a protest. As an organization that seeks to equip youth workers in every part of the U.S., we realize that you represent churches and communities across all ends of the spectrum. Some of you have been carrying the weight of systemic racism all of your lives. Your communities see the worst of it, your students are growing up in the midst of it, and your life is directly impacted by it on a daily basis. Some of you are allies of people of color, who recognize the presence of systemic racism but don’t necessarily feel the direct impact of it and in turn, you’re working to open the eyes of your church and your students to it. There are also others of you who are just now being confronted with the reality of systemic racial divides, you have a spiritual burden to help, but you don’t know what to do.

What we all have in common is the call to shepherd students through times like this. We’ve gathered resources below in an effort to help you with both the immediate needs for your next youth group gathering and to help you think about your next steps well beyond that.


*Forgive the technical issues we had in the first 13 minutes. The conversation was so great, I hope it doesn’t distract you too much before the technological issues clear up in minute 13.  

This Google Hangout was a chance for us to process the tragedies that occurred this past week, to describe our emotions and our fears, and to help many of us think about how we can guide our students down a path of reconciliation. Ginny Olson and LaTasha Morrison led the conversation with youth workers from around the US.


Here is a quick list of prayer stations and thoughtful questions that you can repurpose for your next youth group gathering by including the details of the recent tragic deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas Police Officers:


We’ve made all of our YS Explores videos and seminars that were a part of our conversation last year about multiculturalism in the Church at the National Youth Workers Convention available to you for FREE. Just click the links below to start the download, and you can hear thought leaders from all across the spectrum of ministry share from their experiences and how they practically took steps toward racial reconciliation.

Here are blog posts and articles that will help guide you toward some next practical steps and might even be good resources to share with parents in your church.


We are constantly working to include helpful voices and perspectives from across the spectrum of youth ministry, especially those willing to engage in difficult topics like this. Here are two ways you can be involved:

  • Comment below with your thoughts and resources to share.
  • Email me directly to write a blog post about your experiences.

JACOB ECKEBERGER is the Content Manager at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, the spouse of a church planter, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him blogging about social media and digital strategy ideas at JACOBECKEBERGER.COM.


Jacob Eckeberger

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.