Ultimate Guide to Staying Connected during social distancing 

We started reaching out to our youth pastors asking how we can be praying for them and their ministries during these stressful and uncertain times. Many responses were similar: How can we connect with our youth when we can’t have in-person time? 

So we brainstormed. 

How can we help our youth pastors continue to inspire Christ-like change and build authentic relationships in a time of social distancing? 

The result? An ever-growing list of tools and ideas for connecting with your youth group virtually. 

Use the “What’s Included” links below to explore this page the form at the bottom to submit your own ideas. 

And most importantly, have fun!

What's Included: 

Virtual Meeting Platforms

Facebook Live

Tips: https://www.wowza.com/blog/facebook-live-for-churches

Zoom Meetings

With zoom, you can schedule a meeting and students can join via phone or computer, and it has some cool features for large and small group breakouts. When people initially join the call everyone will be in one large group and this could be a good time to give a message, play a virtual game, do some worship, or just chat with your youth all in one place. However, after that, you have the ability to split then call into small groups (that you can assign) so you could split everyone up into age groups, or small groups that they normally meet with via zoom and they could chat in those breakout rooms as they would if they were meeting in person. As the meeting host, you can also call everyone back to the large meeting at the end to finish with a closing prayer or any final thoughts. With the free version, you can have a meeting up to 40 minutes long and up to 100 people, but you can buy a plan and get up to 800 people in at once and go for unlimited amounts of time. So if you are going the free route and need to go longer you can do two back to back meetings and maybe do the message and game the first one and the small groups during the second. 

Tutorial for breaking into small groups: https://youtu.be/j_O7rDILNCM

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is a free app that allows you to video chat with someone or multiple people at once without everyone having to be available or online. The videos save so you and the other people in the group can go back to them if needed. You are also able to talk back and forth with one another. You can have up to 200 people in one group. You can use this link to find out more information: https://support.marcopolo.me/

Instagram

Instagram stories/live is a great way to interact, ask questions, and host different kinds of activities. You could lead a devotional on an Instagram live and have students interact/ask questions during the live video. Also, a fun thing about Instagram is most of your students most likely already have an account. 

TikTok

On TikTok, you could post daily devotionals or encouragements that are one minute long. Just ask your students to follow your page and they will see when you post.   

Vimeo

Use Vimeo to post devotionals or short videos for your group to watch. How to add Vimeo to your church website: https://www.churchedit.co.uk/website-tips/church-video/add-video-to-your-church-website-using-vimeo/

back to top


Game Ideas

Minute to Win It

  • Cookie On The Face - everyone has a cookie or cracker in their house, get a few volunteers to participate and on your count, they have to start with the cookie on their forehead and use only their face muscles to get it down into their mouth (no hands! And the first on to get it wins).
  • Traffic Yam - Push a sweet potato (or can of beans, or any other vegetable or object) across the floor from for a distance of 10 feet (or 5, whatever is easy for people to measure in their house) with just your nose 
  • It’s Not Easy Being Green - (St. Patrick’s day, but you could do any other color too). Have students race to find the greenest items of clothing in their house in a minute and put them on. The student with the most items wins. You could also have a winner for the craziest looking outfit!
  • Potato Bowl - Have each player get a potato and six water bottles. Players must set up the water bottles in a bowling pin formation (3, 2, 1) on one side of the room. Players must bowl the potato across the room (set a distance for uniformity) to knock all of the water bottles over. Getting them over once isn’t too difficult, so players must knock them over a certain number of times or knock over a total number of pins within the time limit. The first player to knock them over a certain amount of times OR player to knock them over the most number of times in a minute wins.
  • Balance Book - Tape a 10-foot line on the floor and gather together a bunch of books, trying to stick to the same size if possible. Players have to walk from one end of the tape to the other (without falling off) while balancing a book on their head. If the book falls off or they step off the line, they receive no points. If they make it across with one book, they receive one point and can try again with more books. They can continue walking back and forth until the books fall off their head, up to a total of three books (for 5 points). Points do not accumulate, so if they eventually can do three books, they receive a total of five points, not nine. Scoring: One book – 1 point, Two books – 3 points, Three books – 5 points.
  • Household Biathlon - Setup two different stations that players will have to compete as quickly as possible to finish their household biathlon (you could have two people in different places be on a team). The fastest player gets five points, the next fastest gets three points, and the third fastest gets three. Event #1 – Rug Run: Players have to sit on a bath mat (rug) and scootch their way from the starting line to the finish line and back again. This also works with towels if you have more of those available. Event #2 – Spin Cycle: Players have to search through a basket of unmatched socks to find five mates, then must mate the socks and place them on the ground to finish.
  • More ideas: https://www.playpartyplan.com/minute-to-win-it-games-for-kids/

Kahoot! Games

Instagram Scavenger Hunt

  • Things to take a picture of:
    • 2pts: Letters, An item up close, something red, cell phone, something shiny, car/vehicle, an animal, something blue, an American flag. 
    • 5pts: Smiling, jumping, hands, pyramid, in a circle, handstands, making faces, tallest to shortest, spelling word w/bodies
  • Rules of the game:
    • Photos must be tagged with #_______ to count for points
    • Include your team (or individual) name so we know which team gets the points. 
    • Team photos must have everyone in the photo (or the individual and the object).
    • You have 15 minutes to get the points
    • First team or individual with 40+ points wins
Name that Tune

Rules: Turn on the song and the first person to comment or shout out (choose one or the other commenting might be easier to track) wins that round. You can set a time limit of no comments for 5-10 seconds if you want and then let them guess or you can just play it and stop the music at the first comment. 

Trivia Ideas

Psych! 

App by Ellen that you can play with your group all at one time. You try to trick each other into picking your answer and “psych” the other person out. The person who gets the most “best answers” is the winner. You could play while you are having a virtual youth group meeting or set it up for the group to play at an outside time.

Charades 

Split the group into two or more groups and then when it is their group’s turn time how long it takes them to get each word, or you can have a time limit and see how many they can get through in say a minute or 30 seconds. Choose who is acting out the words and you can message them on zoom and tell them what their words are. Then their group would have to guess off of the motions they make. No words, sounds, or writing, just asking it out.

Spelling Bee 

Put those spelling skills to the test and have an old fashioned spelling bee on zoom! You could switch it up and do math problems as well and even have a kid or group of kids lead this part. Maybe one small group puts together the words and tests everyone else, another small group puts together some math facts and leads a short “math bee,” then another could put together some history or science trivia and lead that. Let the students be a part of creating!

How’s Yours? 

Put one person in a breakout group by themselves and everyone else in one together.  The group with everyone selects one noun that can be described with a single adjective. When the group all comes back together, they’ll ask various people “How’s yours?”, and the people answer accordingly with one word.  The goal is to get the person who is it to guess what the noun is. Video Instructions with Madison: https://youtu.be/P22R7_YI-ls 

This or That 

Ask questions in which students could pick one or the other (for example, Disney or Nickelodeon, vanilla or chocolate). If on zoom you can have the student put a hand on their head for one and thumbs up for the other, so maybe hold up a 1 or 2 written on a sheet of paper. You could also do this via an Instagram story poll or social media post on which they could write their choice in the comments. Instructions with Ryan: https://youtu.be/Hv5-llE4pIk 

Fortunately, Unfortunately

One person starts by saying a sentence that must start with, fortunately, then the next person must start their sentence with unfortunately and go from there until everyone has gone and you’ve told the whole story. Instructions with Ryan: https://youtu.be/Bo5MAOuKglE 

Green Glass Door

A word riddle game. Only words that contain double letters can pass through the Green Glass Door. Hence, a kitten can pass but not a cat, a puppy but not a dog, a glass but not a cup, and a tree but not a leaf. Video Instructions with Madison: https://youtu.be/QcRT9io3e0I 

To the Moon

No one knows the rule except the person leading the game and everyone else playing is trying to figure it out. The person leading says “okay, I am going to take a pencil to the moon” and that is correct. Someone playing might say “I am going to take a dog to the moon” but that is incorrect. You have to say “okay” at the start or it is incorrect and the people playing are trying to figure that out. Video Instructions with Madison: https://youtu.be/hvWm4vEIR_Q 

I’m Making a Spiderweb

The person leading says “I am making a spider web from my doorknob, to my bed, then to my nose, whose web is it?” And the first person who speaks is whose web it is, but the person participating has to figure that out. The web can be made going anywhere. Video Instructions with Madison: https://youtu.be/S914tFULqZs

Dicebreakers! 

An Icebreaker Activity using Dice. Most people will have access to a pair of dice.  Request that they have one available during your online meeting and have each person roll the dice and answer the corresponding question to the number on the die. 
1: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
2: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you take with you?
3: If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
4: If you won a million dollars, what is the first thing you would buy?
5: If you could spend the day with one fictional character, who would it be?
6: If you found a magic lantern and a genie gave you three wishes, what would you wish?
 
 

Digging Deeper: Group Development 

Guide to Taking Youth Ministry Online 

Young people have pressing concerns that are keeping them awake at night, things like disappointment, anxiety, dread of failure, and loneliness. Many young people feel trapped. Yet Galatians 5 provides good news. There is freedom. The Spirit of God can be their guide. Download this free guide from Rev. Angela Gorrell, Ph.D, and Paul Gorrell on ministering to youth during a time of social distancing. https://www.angelagorrell.com/resources

Favorite Things 

Have each person grab three things that mean something to them and see who has similar items. In small groups, they can explain their three things to each other. 

How Do You See God?

Have each person find a physical photo, magazine, artwork, etc. around their house (or maybe draw one) that represents their view of God. Have them explain why they chose the picture they did.

Lifeline Biography

Have students draw a line representing their life and plot significant periods/events (with writing or drawings) influencing who they are on a piece of paper. Have them share with the group one at a time or when they break up into small groups. This can be adapted many ways: do the same except using a river as a metaphor (where there rapids, meandering, etc.) or do a Service Biography line (when first service experience, what influenced you, positive and negative impacts on your life)

Object share

Each person brings to the meeting (or post about) an object, and shares how the object is like them or representative of a topic you are talking about examples include: “how I feel today,” “what I contributed to the team”, “how I feel about this ______”, “what I learned, etc.” The object can be something found in nature, around their house, a type of food, a book, etc. (pick one!).

Parables & Stories

Read a piece of pertinent literature and have participants respond and draw correlations to their current or past experiences.

Poetry or Writing Slam

Take turns; each day somebody else will write a short poem or sentence about a certain topic or it could just be a free write that they then share with the group. You could do one meeting or have a time set about for a couple of people to go each time. You could also host an event that is simply a poetry/writing slam (or reading of other’s poetry if they would be easier). 

Virtual Icebreakers

 https://training-wheels.com/virtual-icebreakers-and-connection-activities/

 

back to top

Worship Night

Live

Use Facebook live, Zoom, or live stream from your church to have a live worship night with your students or small group. You can have students vote on songs or add comments of what they want to hear next. You can also ask students ahead of time, record the worship and then all watch it together via a live platform. 

Worship Mash Up

Have students send in videos of them jamming to a worship song and compile them together to make a worship mass up for your whole group. They could play, sing, or even just lip sync if they don’t know/or like to sing. 

Masked Singer Edition

Have students change the name on their login to match their mask and then have a few rounds of each masked student singing or performing to a worship song. Have other students comment to vote on how they think each masked singer is. Maybe advise students to have a blank sheet behind them on their video so that other students can’t figure out who they are because of their background.

 

back to top

Devotionals

10 for 10 Bible Study Plan

A 10 for 10 is a strategy for the study of Scripture that involves finding a place alone—at least 10 feet away from anyone else—to read and reflect on the Word of God for just 10 minutes. As a family whoever you’re with—take time to read the scripture for the day. Most passages are short enough that you can read them more than once. Use the reflection points to guide your reading. After the 10 minutes, come together and use the reflection to have a discussion about what you’ve read. End with a time of prayer. Click here to download. 

Live

Have students all login at the same time and offer a live devo.

Pre-recorded

Drop a new devotional every morning or evening (or at a super specific time that is random like 11:38 am) and encourage the students to interact with the post and comment with questions, remarks, pray request, etc.

Student Made 

Have your students (or student leaders) send you recorded devotionals over a certain topic (or one of their choosing). You can post one of these each day so they can hear from each other and share what is on their heart with each other.

 

back to top

Prayer

Live 

Set up a prayer meeting on a live platform and pray over comments as they come in or spend time going around each person asking if they have any prayer and letting students prayer for each other and your communities. 

Prayer Requests

Ask students to give request via:

  • Replying to an Instagram story with their request
  • Emailing them in to your church email
  • Commenting on a post if they need prayer
  • You also can collect request from other church/family members as well

Weekly Prayer Swap

Send students another person’s prayer request. I can be other students (with names or anonymous), or requests form other church or community members. Ask them to spend time praying for that person each day that week. Each week they will have a new person (or a couple people) that they are praying for. You and your leaders could put in world wide prayer as well or just keep it local. Having a board or list of answered prayers could also be a really cool thing to keep track of. 

Visual

Have an editable place to keep all your prayer request and answered prayers in one place 

  • Ideaflip: (https://ideaflip.com/) Use a website to keep your prayer request on post-it notes and it looks like you can group them and have one side that is prayer requests and one that is answered prayers. They have a 14-day free trial. 
  • Google Docs: not as pretty but it’s free! You can create text boxes that look like sticky notes or have a table with requests and answered prayers.

back to top

Have an idea for this page? We want to hear from you! 

Use the form below to submit your ideas for staying connected during social distancing.