This week we want to share a guest blog by Phoebe Capps, church intern at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia. Phoebe’s responsibilities include working with children and youth. She shares with us what she is learning about Zoom as a tool for ministry! ~ Eileen
How to Survive: Zoom Fatigue
I’ve been the church intern at the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia for over a year now. Towards the beginning, the internship presented me with its own learning curves and experiences, but that all changed when we went to the foreboding online format. When COVID-19 hit, I received a new set of challenges.
One of my jobs became recording prayers on my cell phone for worship. I also organized and created videos for church-wide events, and, toughest of all, engaged our youth and children remotely.
Youth “Zoom fatigue” hit our youth group like a second pandemic. Like many youth ministers, we were grasping for methods to keep them engaged. The few games that worked in the beginning became boring to the youth, and Bible Study for an hour wasn’t making the cut. Youth began to slowly drop from the gallery view of my computer screen.
The Search for New Ideas
As our schedule became more regular, Wednesday night Zoom calls were declared to be game nights. I was in charge of developing these games, and I began searching a variety of different sources. I watched game show clips and read the instruction manuals of many popular party games. These provided me with inspiration to create exciting games that would work with youth on Zoom calls.
Some games were more successful than others, and the success often depended on the number of youth on the call. The youth have always been excited to play a new game each week and working out kinks together contributed to a bit of fun chaos. I learned quickly that some youth are much more competitive than others, and that sometimes very simple games go over very well.
The games are mostly designed to promote the youth’s engagement with one another, and they have added to the youth’s growing “Zoom culture.” Learning how to interact across phone and laptop screens was uncomfortable and difficult for both the youth and their leaders. The challenge of engaging with youth has only been compounded by the desire that we all have to be together. But this virtual and intentional time together has led to the development of a unique type of interaction. See Youth Game Sample PDF here.
This interaction looks and feels very unfamiliar, but it is one that our youth look forward to every week.
Working with Children on Zoom
I have been lucky to work with our children during their weekly VBS Zoom calls, and I’ve been able to apply this unanticipated Zoom game-creating skill. Children interact with Zoom in a completely different way than youth. So I was challenged with creating games that were more straightforward and less competitive. I lead children in a different game every week, and the children have been very enthusiastic off the bat. See Children’s Game Sample PDF here.
After some conversation with the youth minister, I realized that other ministers who work with youth and children are struggling with similar challenges. This led me to compile my game notes into a curriculum that is available for people who minister with youth and children across denominations.
My hope is to help others develop an enthusiastic culture around Zoom, even amidst all the fatigue.
So far, my experience as an intern during the pandemic has taught me the value of flexibility in times of change. As I’ve served and worked with others who have faced the challenge of change, I’ve witnessed a unique spirit of care and innovation in a field where tradition feels larger than all of us. As COVID-19 persists, I hope to discover more ways to engage with my church community as their intern.
Phoebe Capps serves as the church intern at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia. She is entering into her third year of undergraduate studies at Mercer University where she studies Environmental Engineering. Phoebe’s Zoom Games are available for by emailing Phoebe at: [email protected]