I would not be a good interior designer. I have random rocks on different shelves and a mason jar filled with sand, pine needles, and lake water decorating my room. These items, odd as they may be, remind me of friends and memories I made in youth group. My favorite memories and closest bonds are from the various Sunday nights, weekends, and weeks I spent with my friends from church.
The rocks were little crafts we had done throughout the years. One of my favorites is painted like a house. It serves as a reminder of God’s strength and the refuge God provides. More than that, it reminds me of how God acts through my friends to bring comfort and resilience. We got to do so many wonderful and fun things together, but we also had the chance to help each other through our challenging times.
I do not remember everything we talked about at our meetings, but I know the benefit of youth group was being in a community.
One of the scarcest resources this year has been true connection. Socializing with friends has been relegated to Netflix Parties, Among Us game nights, endless FaceTime and Zoom calls, and maybe physically distanced visits. We are starved for meaningful connection with conversations beyond saying “I’m pandemic good.” We all need and deserve the space to say, “I am really tired of being locked in my room, alone, for hours on end.” There is no wrong way to feel during a pandemic. We’re going to get through this together.
One of our goals for Pop Up Youth Ministry is to provide brave spaces to talk about how we feel and what is going on in our lives. We want to build and maintain a caring and supportive community.
Since March, Pop Up has been adapting our events to fit into an hour-long Zoom call on Sunday afternoons. We have been lucky to find fun activities we can do together like Kahoot quizzes, crafts, and virtual escape rooms.
We also make sure we have the time to talk about our lives. When school started back in September, we pictured ourselves as boats sailing in the ocean. All of our worries and stresses were storms that might shake our boat. Although it feels like it, that is not a bad thing. These storms show us not only our strengths, but also where our friends can help us. I do not know how to patch a hole in a boat, but my friend does. They can show me and support me through the process. God is by our side the whole time.
It is one thing to hear that truth yet another to really experience it. Youth ministry like Pop Up provides the place to feel God’s love through our friends so we can learn and live out our faith.
The Pop Up team has been involved in more than just Pop Up. We have helped with Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center’s summer camp offerings, Bold Transformational Faith virtual Sunday School, and the virtual youth retreats. We have also helped with the Diocesan Confirmation Retreat and led a workshop about Youth Ministry at Church Leader Zoom-iversity this past May.
Now more than ever, we all need to be a part of a community like Pop Up, and we want to make sure you know you are invited to join us. The first few events of 2021 are:
- Sunday, January 10, 2021 at 3 PM
- Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 3 PM
- Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 10 AM
- Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 3 PM
Go to dioceseofnewark.org/youth to register for these events and sign up for our e-newsletter. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@popupym) to stay up to date on everything we do. We hope to see you soon!