the shape of leadership

Ministering to the Class of COVID-19

Five things today’s young adults need

Kent Ingle on May 11, 2020

What would traditionally be known as the Class of 2020 will now notoriously be remembered as the Class of COVID-19.

Ceremonies for approximately 3.5 million graduating college students are no longer happening this spring or have been postponed. Big summer vacations are canceled. Jobs and internships that countless people were anticipating have fallen through.

Students are unable to celebrate and have closure with friends and family. Now, these students step into the next months unsure of what this all means for their future.

As church services, buildings and community groups reopen, there may not be a more pertinent time for the Church to minister the enduring hope of Jesus Christ to this generation.

The Class of COVID-19 will have new spiritual needs, concerns and limitations. It is vital that churches recognize the fears and emotional distress people are experiencing as the Church ministers to their needs.

Now is the time when graduates should feel excited and eager to embark on a new season, but this moment is now filled with fear and, for many, hopelessness. With most still cooped up in their homes and states slowly reopening, many young adults are trying to find their way in a strange new world.

Currently, many are deep in debt with job prospects that are slim to none. Nationally, student loan debt is at a record-breaking $1.6 trillion. Gen Z already struggles with depression and anxiety, and now they face even more health concerns.

Students who watched a generation before them struggle through the Great Recession have staggering financial concerns of their own. Considering the instabilities their families now face, there are few certainties graduates can bank on.

There may not be a more pertinent time for the Church to minister the enduring hope of Jesus Christ to this generation.

Not only are graduates unable to celebrate and look forward to what graduation means for their future, but they are also currently isolated and cut off from their communities. As the Church evolves with the times of COVID-19, it can position many to minister to this age group more effectively.

Here are five ways to minister to the Class of COVID-19:

1. Speak words of affirmation. At this time of year, graduates are typically surrounded by hopeful messages. In the current realities of their situation, they are hungry for encouragement. Send a graduation card, even if there isn’t a graduation party. Remind them of the hope and future that is ahead of them in Christ.

2. Invite them into a place of genuine community — without an agenda. Have coffee with them over Zoom, set up a Google Hangouts party to celebrate their accomplishments, or, as states begin to reopen, have small groups over for dinner. Don’t set up any program or agenda. Connect with them and hear how they are doing.

3. Offer tangible support. Ask them about the specific needs in their lives, and find ways to uplift them. Whether buying them lunch or helping them with job leads, look for ways to meet their needs during this time.

4. Provide guidance and wisdom. Many graduates are uncertain of how to move forward in this time. Find moments and ways to instill practical guidance for navigating the months ahead.

5. Lift them up in consistent prayer. Not every student has the benefit of knowing someone is praying — and many are distant from a church community. Begin lifting up students in prayer by name, and let them know you are praying for them. Call them to ask about their needs and pray with them. Send them words of Scripture God has laid on your heart.

More than ever, graduates are in need of the hope of Jesus Christ and the support of the local church to be a light to their lives in these difficult times. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We must be intentional to encourage these young people to take heart and remind them the same God who has overcome the world will surely overcome this season for them.

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