To say this COVID-19 situation has forced us to be creative when it comes to connecting with students would be an understatement. Sure, we can Instagram live and text and Zoom all the live long day, but it’s just not quite the same as face to face interaction and hanging out with students at youth group.
We’ve been creatively trying to find ways to connect with our students and let them know we care for them. Isaac Leimeister, our High School Minister, and I are both runners. So we decided to go on a “Fun Run” through one of our towns and visit students from their driveways.
Our total run totaled 13.4 miles, 23,768 steps, and we visited about 16 families. You can watch our journey here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9Q_CjH3WYY .
In case you’re a runner and want to attempt something like this to connect with your students, here’s the step-by-step process we went through:
- Identify your target town. We have 20+ different school systems involved in our Student Ministries, so we had to narrow it down. Salem is the town I live in, and it’s one of the few areas that isn’t rural (translation – TONS of miles between houses). We also have a lot of students who live in this particular town, so it made sense.
- Choose your day. Watch the weather and pick a great day – the day we ran was gorgeous, which made the outside visits easier too.
- Map your route. We used our church database to make sure we had correct addresses, and then we used Google maps to create a map of our route. You can sign in to Google maps, then click “Your places,” then “Maps” and “Create Map.” This allowed us to see our students’ homes on a Google map that we could access on our phones while we ran.
- Contact families to let them know your plan. We didn’t want to surprise anybody or run across town to an empty house (even though that still happened). We also didn’t want to show up (2 male youth pastors) and visit a teenage girl while parents were at work without giving plenty of notice (even though we were outside in driveways). This also gave families something to look forward to and a timeframe to plan for.
- Have a blast. We had so much fun and made so many good connections with families, this was definitely a HUGE win!
- Create a video (optional). We took video of the whole experience, and then created a fun, fast-paced video of our day to share with our students. Again, you can see that here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9Q_CjH3WYY
We’d love to hear the creative ways you’re connecting with your students in the midst of this pandemic. What fun ways have you found to show students you care about them?