For those who live in the world of screens, cameras and keyboards it is not much of a leap to consider forming a community online. Right now an experiment in building an online youth group is in progress. According to Rev. Bill Spangler-Dunning, regional minister in the Upper Midwest, the idea developed out of the need of some congregations who do not have youth volunteers but would like to offer something for their youth.
“Sometimes there are only one or two junior high or high school youth in the church and if we don’t offer something then our youth and their parents seem to just drift away,” he said.
The group nPartnership.org (Youth Ministers Risking Another Way for the Whole Church) recruited Rev Anne Ross Bruce, Glasgow, Ky. to serve as the lead youth minister in this new project. Bruce has attended another of the nPartnership projects called the Disciples Youth Ministry Network retreats and comes to the project with a strong commitment for finding new ways to be church.
The plan for the Virtual Youth Group will be to offer weekly online (full video) youth group times for three months and see where it goes. There is no cost but will be limited to 14 youth from across the US and Canada. Participants will need a webcam, high speed internet, a computer and permission from parents. The group meets Sunday night at 8 pm EDT at https://pro.megameeting.com/guest/#&id=16886&enableBack=true
If the project takes off nPartnership planners imagine that:
1. Churches that have no resources for a youth group will have an option for their youth.
2. Youth will experience the diversity of our church and be enriched for that experience.
3. The youth will want to get together live in the life of the church. This could be at the General Assembly in Orlando or meet for a mission trip somewhere.
4. We will be able to bring church leaders from across the world to journey alongside these youth by inviting these leaders in the same video room.
5. This ministry could be replicated and could benefit those congregations who presently can only call a youth minister three-quarter time as they can now rent out the other quarter time to churches participating in these projects.
6. Youth who participate in this particular Journey of Faith together will invigorate the whole church as they find ways to share their leadership with the whole church.