Youth Ministry While Social Distancing

ARUMC Stage 2 Safe Reopening Guidelines for In-Person Youth Activities Ages 12-18

As the state of Arkansas has entered into Phase Two of Reopening, ARUMC churches will begin the process of planning for to enter Stage Two of reopening their buildings and transitioning ministries from online to in-person. The following guidelines will help guide the conversation and any decisions made as these plans are developed:

  1. All churches should follow the guidance of the Bishop as to when churches can safely begin to reopen. Bishop Mueller has identified June 28 as the start of Revised ARUMC Stage 2.
  2. Church Relaunch Teams should include a representative from youth ministry.
  3. Safe Sanctuary policies should be reviewed and volunteers should be reminded of these policies as plans are made for transitioning back to in-person programming. A shortage of volunteers is a possibility as high-risk adults will remain home. Some changes in policy may need to be considered in order to reduce the possibility of spreading infection.
  4. Safety Guidelines
    • Youth programming must follow CDC guidelines for sanitation, safety, size, and social distancing.
    • Guidelines and procedures for deep cleaning and regular sanitizing of all spaces used for youth ministries should be developed prior to in-person events and programs re-starting.
    • Develop a plan for providing face coverings for youth and adults who arrive without one.
    • All staff, volunteers, and youth should wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet physical distance from all present whether gatherings are indoors or outdoors. Those who live in the same household can be considered a “family unit” and can be within 6 feet of one another but must wear a face covering at all times.
    • When possible, youth gatherings should be held outdoors.
    • When youth gatherings are held indoors, they should be no longer than 30-35 minutes since contracting COVID-19 involves both distance from infected persons and duration of exposure.
    • Whether indoors or outdoors, a space of 36 square feet should be accounted for per “family unit” in attendance to allow adequate space for physically distancing as recommended by the CDC.
    • Youth trips, outings and missions should not involve communal travel.
  5. Registering or accounting for youth expected to attend in-person events and programs must be used in order to limit the number of youth and adults, with a maximum of 50 people.
  6. Attendance should be taken at all youth gatherings including youth and adults in attendance in case COVID-19 tracing needs to occur.
  7. Food should not be offered in a communal setting. It is recommended that youth bring their own food to gatherings when possible.
  8. Be aware that while youth appear to be less vulnerable than other age groups, some youth are vulnerable and some youth are in regular contact with someone who is vulnerable. It is vital to continue to provide ministry opportunities for those who are not able or are not comfortable attending in person.

Links in bold have been added since last Sunday.

ARUMC Youth Workers will gather for a zoom call every Thursday at noon to check in with each other and share ideas about doing youth ministry while social distancing.  You can join any of the Thursday conversations using this link.

Previous Zoom Calls

Sites that will continue to post new articles, lessons, ideas and reflections

Safe Practices for Online Youth Ministry

CouRSe is a learning management system provided by the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church that is provided free to all members. For more information on CouRSe, please click here. Classes available on CouRSe related to COVID-19 include:

  • Getting Online Giving On Line
  • Streaming and Uploading Worship Online
  • Using Zoom to Keep Church Connection
  • Social Media Basics: Facebook and Instagram Church Pages
  • Prepare, Discern, Pray, Act: Getting Started with 200K Reasons
  • Creative Strategies for Connecting with Your Neighbors
  • Teaching Online: An Overview
  • Children and Grief
  • Increasing Engagement Through Virtual Worship
  • Basic Video Skills
  • CARES Act Course – Options For Churches During the Quarantine

Devotionals and Reflections

Mental Health Resources

Physically Distanced, No Contact Game Ideas

Virtual Activities for Youth

Resources for Ministry with High School and College Seniors

Other Resources

* Thanks to Virginia Brown for this resource.
** Thanks to the Western North Carolina Conference for this resource.
*** Thanks for Amy Shores, Director of Pastoral at Methodist Family Health for this resource.
**** Thanks to the North Alabama Conference for compiling this list.
***** Thanks to the Central Texas Conference for this resource.
+ Thanks to Cindy Bright for this resource.