September is usually the month you hear me talk about plans for the upcoming year, ask for volunteers, and lay out my vision for the future of the Student Ministry. I usually spend the weeks leading up to the start of the school year planning events and weekly gatherings, getting excited to see students again, training volunteers, and answering parent questions.

It’s time for something new in an unusual year and I’ve been trying to listen to what this season of disruption could teach me.

I miss connection. I need connection. You probably do, too. Meaningful connection with students, parents, volunteers, and (above all) God is what makes our Student Ministry.

This disruptive season has allowed God to step in and reorient my focus. This ministry is not about me or you, but it’s about ALL of us. And it may seem like we have lost momentum, but God is still very much at work. I had to change my posture from losing to listening, and doing so has opened up new possibilities. Student Ministry may look and feel different from what I planned.

It’s still September, though, and so here is my invitation: If you are reading this, get in touch with me. You can introduce or re-introduce yourself and tell me about your hopes and dreams for the Student Ministry. Instead of focusing on a lot of plans (something I value greatly), I want to spend time listening to you. I believe that listening should be at the heart of our work.

Eventually, we will be able to gather together again, but ministry may not look “normal” and this new school year isn’t going to look like the one we’d planned. We’ll continue to re-evaluate what is safe. We may have to gather in ways that leave us feeling isolated and frustrated at times. We’ll keep figuring out how to make day-to-day life work. And we’ll continue to grieve losses.

It is my prayer that this unusual new school year will be a season that transforms this ministry. May it be a time to deeply listen to one another, to place all the details we’re worrying about into God’s hands, and (for me) to grow in relationship thoughtfully with young people and families entrusted to my care.