For our 4th and final blog of our series on Youth Ministries fall programming, we’re going to talk about the weirdest activity in the deck: Quarantine Craft Time! For our Sunday night programming, during our normal E-Refuge slot, we’re going to alternate between in-person and virtual events. We will start with an in-person drive-in kick-off this Sunday, and then, for the 20th and 27th, we’ll have our first couple Quarantine Craft Times!
If you are anything like me, you have spent a fair amount of time the past six months on social media watching cute 2-minute videos of people making cakes, or building flower boxes, or painting their bedrooms. If you are anything like me, you’ve also found those things are often comically harder than it seems like they will be. But when you try and fail alongside friends, it’s actually still pretty fun! So for our Sunday night programming, as a way to Play together, we are going to pick a weekly craft, recipe, DIY project, or other hands-on activity, send out kits or a supplies list, and then gather on Zoom and Instagram Live to take a pass at it, together!
This silly idea actually has a really powerful origin story. As I’ve spoken about on the blog before, we are part of a project called the Innovation Lab through the Center for Youth Ministry Training, funded by the Texas Methodist Foundation. We spent time digging into interviews, demographic data, and community history as a way of understanding some of the core hurts that our teenagers are facing. The core hurt we identified to work on is simple, but deep; teenagers believe that if they fail at anything, they are a failure. The pressure to succeed, to be not just good but the best, at everything they do, is so intense that teenagers feel suffocated.
I know you believe that this is not your family. I know you think, “I don’t put too much pressure on my kid, I just am setting them up for success. My kid knows they don’t have to do everything perfectly.” I know you love your kids unconditionally. I know you would never think of them as a failure for a single mistake. But I have a question: if your child comes home with a report card that is straight A’s except for an 85 in math, which class do you ask about first?
Teenagers are not allowed to be bad at things: they are told to quit sports they can’t make varsity in, that if they’re not going to college for art, they need to drop the art class and take something more practical, and so on. As a result, teenagers have a low resiliency to failure and an unwillingness to experiment because being bad at things is so antithetical to their framework for what is valuable. That makes teenagers more anxious, less creative, and robs the joy even from those things they should have fun with, like art, sports, and extra-curriculars.
So we have a small and silly solution: let them fail at low-stakes things together, alongside adults who are just as willing to fail. Create pockets of space where we model a different reality: where experimentation is good, and play is worthwhile, and trying something new is a fun, sensible use of time, even if (maybe even especially if) it’s outside your comfort zone and skill set. Show teenagers that it’s ok to be bad at something new, to do something for the fun of it, not because it will help you get into college, or because it’s good SAT prep. We’re going to create a little pocket of freedom.
I know that sounds fancy, but what it looks like is that we’re going to make marshmallows from scratch, and build flower boxes, and do whatever else sounds fun. We’re going to let teenagers and volunteers teach. And we’re going to fail together, and have fun doing it.
We hope you’ll join us.
Director of Youth Ministries