One by One
May 13, 2021 | 3 min read | Dave Patty
Like much of Europe, Poland has been in some form of lockdown for over 12 months now. Much of that time, the restrictions prevented normal youth group meetings, leaving youth leaders lost and discouraged. In many locations, youth ministry simply stopped functioning.
Yet, through all these limitations, it was still possible to meet one on one. Realizing this was an open door that needed more attention, the JV Poland team came up with a creative plan to drive innovation in youth ministry and re-engage youth leaders one by one.
With help from an education specialist, they developed an interview protocol for getting to the heart of this young generation. After this, they equipped fifty youth leaders to conduct two to four-hour interviews one-on-one with members of their youth group.
One hundred conversations and three hundred hours later, they compiled their research findings and came up with seven themes that describe what Polish young people are currently experiencing. Issues like massive tension with parents and lack of closeness to peers came to the surface, along with a love/hate relationship to the internet and a longing to be free again and spread their wings. Many expressed a deep desire for someone to lead them spiritually, since the lack of regular youth meetings and fellowship has left them drifting without spiritual direction.
Now, JV staff are teaming up with these youth leaders to develop specific experiments to address each of the seven needs in a way that brings the insights of the Bible and the resources of Christ to the thirst young people are experiencing. The insights learned from these innovative responses will be gathered together, along with the findings from the research, and shared with youth leaders across Poland.
In many ways, this is a triple win. Along with gathering valuable research insights to share, our team is equipping youth leaders to go deep into one-on-one conversations and directly shepherding many hurting young people. One youth leader shared that she had always wanted to meet one-on-one with the young people in her youth group but didn’t really know how. Planning to do just a few interviews, she continued on to meet with everyone in her group because of the impact it was having on them and on her.
Another youth leader shared that he had learned more about his youth group members in a two hour conversation than he had in the last two years.
Since the effects of this pandemic will likely be felt by young people for some time, this focused care for youth leaders and their young people will have deep impact on the future health of the church.
Sometimes the best, and only, way forward is one by one.
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