Remember those far-off days of lockdowns where we had to swiftly learn how to do mission online? We might have been delighted to get back to sharing Jesus in person, but SU’s Sarah Davison believes that hybrid mission could give churches – and young people – the best of both worlds.
‘Back in 2020, using online platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp and Facebook in mission was new to many of us,’ says Sarah. ‘It had its challenges, not least around safeguarding. But we saw young people who hadn’t engaged face to face suddenly opening up and taking part online. I think there could be other benefits too, such as helping us to be more inclusive of children isolated by geography or health issues.’
So, Sarah is leading an SU pilot project to explore Hybrid Mission and how we might weave together the best elements of in-person and digital mission. It includes a focus on three particular areas, one of which is holidays.
Staying connected throughout the year
‘We run an annual Rooted Retreat, bringing together Rooted Groups – young people, led by a Faith Guide, who already meet regularly in their own communities to explore faith using SU Rooted Resources. They love feeling part of something bigger, so through our Hybrid Mission project we’ve been exploring how to keep those groups connected during the year and continue building those relationships. We also want to add a different dimension to what local Rooted Groups can offer in terms of helping those young people on their journey of faith.
'We got to know each other more; it was really good'
‘So we’ve all met up on Zoom and in person and we’ve sent out postcards with QR codes on them to link young people to online content including videos. Now we’ve launched an Instagram group for them, featuring scripture, quotes, video. They can help create content with their Faith Guide for us to include too – for example, videos of themselves asking a question from a Rooted Card.’
One of the Retreat’s young leaders thinks it has been valuable. ‘Every year after the retreat, the kids say “I wish we could do this every week.” Now we can still connect from afar. We got to know each other more; it was really good.’ They also felt it will encourage more of the young people to return to the Retreat each year – ‘it gives them more to look forward to’
Hybrid sports and gaming
That flexibility and accessibility of online content also has potential to work with the second focus area for the Hybrid Mission pilot: Mission through sport. Sarah says, ‘We’ve produced videos for leaders to share with kids during a half time break, using a smartphone or tablet. We’re also developing other videos that the young people can use between sessions, helping them to explore faith at a deeper level.’
The final focus area is gaming. ‘We know mission means going to where young people are, and they’re always online, playing games like Minecraft,’ says Sarah. ‘How might we go about bringing the message of Jesus into that space in a way that feels natural and not forced for the young people, and makes it simple, safe and straightforward for churches?’
So where to from here?
Sarah says, ‘Using what we’ve learned, we plan to produce some guidelines to help anyone wanting to share Jesus with children and young people on how to interweave digital and faceto-face mission effectively, easily – and safely. Hybrid Mission has the potential to offer a whole extra dimension and richness to mission, enabling young people to meet with God and make sense of the Christian message in exciting new ways!’
We would value your prayers!
Please pray for SU's Sarah Davison and all those involved in the Hybrid Mission pilot. It has the potential to take mission into whole new dimensions, but it's also essential that we ensure this can be done safely and simply.
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