Shared Wisdom Will Help Your Ministry Thrive in This Pandemic

Tom Shefchunas, otherwise known as Shef, has been a formative voice in the landscape of youth ministry through his work with North Point Church in Atlanta, Orange, and now Youth Specialties. As he’s been helping youth workers navigate this season, one thing has become clear: We need each other now more than ever. The collective wisdom we can share, about what is working and what isn’t, will be the key element that helps youth ministries thrive in the midst of this pandemic. 

Check out the full interview above, and here are a few key takeaways:

Relational ministry has always worked.

This season of ministry is another arena for us to see the clash of relation-based ministry vs program-based ministry. Right now, ministries that seem to be thriving the most are the ones that had a strong relational focus to their ministry pre-COVID. So its become even more critical to refocus our ministry on the development of relationships and only pour resources into programming that aligns with that focus.

Transitions between grades seem to be the most difficult right now.

With middle school students transitioning into high school, and high school students heading off to college, we have to be thinking about the process of care we can provide during these transitions. Small group leaders can be at the heart of that care, helping with any relational hand-offs to future small group leaders.

Teaching through Zoom has to be different than in person.

None of us want to sit in on another 20-minute Zoom meeting with a talking head. If you do continue online teaching during this season, work to break it up into soundbites that can be discussed every 2-3 minutes. That will help keep everyone engaged along the way.

Don’t miss the Youth Ministry Exchange (Oct 22-23).  

It’s your chance to gather with youth workers from across the US, gain some of that collective wisdom, and add your voice to the landscape of youth ministry.


We’re here to help you find a way forward in this season.

As you continue to reexamine your philosophy of ministry, and your methodology begins to come into focus, know that we’re ready to help with you with whatever form your mission trip and service experiences take in this next year. Here are a few of the ways we can support you right now:

YW Extended Care:

YW Extended Care was created for you to name exactly what you need, how we can support you, and invite our team alongside you during this time. Don’t do any of it alone. We’ve got your back.

Trip Leader Guides:

  • Where do our payments go for a YW mission trip?
  • What does COVID-proof mission trip planning look like?
  • What key details do our parents need to know about a YW mission trip?

These guides were created to help you unpack and communicate responses to those key questions.