Written by Ps Jordan Lara from FGA Melbourne @kar2n
Youth ministry in 2020 is a whole new ball game. Our mission to reach young people with the gospel will never change, but it’s fair to say that facilitating rallies in person could be a while off and consequently youth ministries are forced to take it to the online space.
When it comes to altar calls it has never been more difficult than it is now to encourage young people to respond after a message. The conventional way is to get kids to raise their hands through the webcam, but there is always a handful who are too shy or simply don’t have access to one.
Our youth ministry has tried multiple things in this season, but here are 3 things that have worked for us when it comes to facilitating an altar call in the context of Zoom.
- Utilising Polls
(NOTE: Host user type must be Licensed in order to use polls)
This by far has been one of the most effective methods for encouraging teenagers to respond. The great thing about polls is that you can set it up to be anonymous making it an easier entry point for young people. Also once a poll is launched by the host, it will automatically appear on every participant’s screen and will be prompted to respond.
As participants respond to the poll, it will show a live update of the amount of participants who’ve responded. Polls will be live for as long as you want and will remain on every participant’s screen until you’ve ended the poll on your end. This means you can continue to extend your altar call if you are prompted to encourage more young people to respond.
Extracting Zoom Poll Response Data
You might be wondering, but how do I know who has responded to the polls? The best thing about zoom polls is that you can extract the data of the responses into a spreadsheet with their:
– Username and email address
– Date and time they submitted their answer
– The poll question and the participant’s answer
This is particularly valuable for youth follow ups post service and also helps you get an idea at a glance with where the kids are at, creating an action point for discipleship and ministry to take place.
There are a few things you will need to do in the back end in order to enable polls as well as extract poll data so be sure to follow the link below for an in depth look:
- Private Message your pastor/youth leader
This is great but requires the teenager to be a bit more proactive as the responsibility is on them to start the conversation with their leader. With the way zoom chats work it is quite difficult to keep track of your conversation thread especially when you have the rest of the youth ministry going at it in the chat.
Search responses via chatlog
To help with this make sure you are recording your zoom meeting; by recording your zoom meeting you in turn record the chatlog with the times and names of everyone engaging in the chat. This means that after the meeting is over you can filter through the chat, have a few laughs at some of the banter and then get to the point in time where young people are responding. You should be able to see both private and public responses listed in the chat log. Keep in mind that private messages between anyone who isn’t the host will not be recorded.
Alternatively we’ve also encouraged young people to private message their leader on whatsapp or any other messaging application. From there, the leader can either call them or continue to dialogue with them over chat.
- Breakout Rooms – Youth Opt-In Rooms
One thing we’ve recently been trying lately is Zoom’s latest update with breakout rooms due to the fact that participants can now jump into any room they wish at their own discretion.
This is particularly great for facilitating a large group of teenagers immediately during an altar call, similar to how in-person youth rallies get kids to go to various rooms where a response team will facilitate counselling and prayer with them.
Recreating the response experience on Zoom
To make the experience close to the real deal, you could easily set up a main room where you will have your response crew all there waiting for teenagers to jump in and celebrate them as they appear. Alternatively having a co-host share-screen a holding slide so that as teenagers enter the breakout room they are greeted with a slide that says something along the lines of “welcome home” or “congratulations”. From there you could brief them before going off into private breakout rooms (minimum of 2 leaders per room) for a more private counselling session.
Zoom allows as many break out rooms as you wish, so depending on how many teeangers you have you may need to add more rooms accordingly. My suggestion is to have the meeting host as the moderator of breakout rooms. Unfortunately breakout room management is only limited to the host.
Once the response time has ended you can get the host to end the breakout rooms and force everyone back to the main meeting room. If you time this right you could use this as a means to celebrate young people for making the best decision of their lives.
Relationships are Key!
I hope this helps you even just a little bit! Zoom is constantly upgrading so my encouragement to you is to just play around with it. At the end of the day connecting with teenagers is one of the most important parts in leading them to Christ. So whether you use Zoom or not, my prayer is that you will continue to build that rapport with them and I’m believing for a harvest like we’ve never seen before!
Ps. Jordan Lara
Youth Pastor – Fungus Youth