We live in a unique time where new words and phrases have become part of our vocabulary almost overnight. We constantly hear about “the global pandemic,” “flattening the curve,” “modified/enhanced/general community quarantine,” and of course, “social distancing.” 

Quarantine and social distancing ask us to physically isolate ourselves and maintain distance from others. But we are not meant to detach from society and the relationships that come with it. Amidst these realities, how can we continue to minister to those we’ve been called to?

We’ll answer this question with Proverbs 27:23 (NLT), where it says, “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds . . .”

1. Know your flock.

There are many people we can reach out to, but God has assigned us a few to specifically take care of. We can preach to as many as we can and minister to crowds, but we are also called to disciple and be faithful with the few.

Know your audience, because this will influence how you approach them. Are you talking to an occasional youth service attendee or to your faithful intern? Are you consumed with reaching out to everyone or have you made a plan for your group of leaders? You can learn from how others are approaching their flock, but always adjust anything worth emulating for your specific context. Because you are their minister, you are accountable to hear from God and seek direction for your flock.

2. Know the condition of your flock.

We are pastors to our students. This is a time when we can lead by example by staying involved and connected with other people. We can model this through deep conversations, encouragement, and prayers. Do not miss out on this chance to equip them, primarily by showing them that you care for them.

3. Remember the principles.

The discipleship journey (Engage, Establish, Equip, Empower) and the leadership development framework (Identify, Instruct, Impart, Intern) give us a good foundation for understanding who our flock is and pinpointing their needs. Use them to help you respond creatively and innovatively at this time. These principles are designed to be contextualized for your specific setting, and not to limit you to a set of methods.

4. Do whatever it takes.

Being at home does not mean we give less of our passion to our work. Although impartation works best when we are physically present, we can still be passionate in how we pray for and encourage students.

Give it your all when it comes to making plans, shooting videos, or even organizing watch parties. Passion can still be felt online. The verse also says to put your heart into it, so let this be a personal matter to you. Discipleship is always personal. Build with them, laugh with them, and continually engage and journey with them.

As we follow these principles, and by the grace of God, we will be able to stay connected, even without being physically present.