Supporting LTG leaders online
By Jemima Knox

Lockdown 2.0. Here we are again. For the past 4 months our Lunchtime Groups have been disrupted. In Term 1, our groups met in person – in a room, in person, at lunchtime with time to study God’s word, to pray together and to support each other. Term 2 flipped that on its head. Schools began teaching online and students were suddenly doing learning in track pants, ugg boots and on multiple online platforms. They didn’t physically see their teachers or their classmates. Their lunchtimes now involved home cooked meals and walks around the block rather than sandwiches in the school yard and catching up with friends. The end of term 2 and the beginning of Term 3 had a mix of everything: first of all students on-campus; then only year 11s and 12s on campus and now all year levels across the state are back online. But our Lunchtime Groups leaders have found ways around that, they are innovative and resilient and are to be applauded.

Back in Term 2, as staff we wondered a few things:
“What was happening to lunchtime groups (LTGs)?”
“Were our 52 LTGs across Victoria and SA still meeting online?”
“Were they able to support and encourage each other through this odd time?”
“How could we support and encourage them to continue to seek God’s grace and mercy while being at home?”

There was only one way to find out…contact them! In Term 2 we started 2 initiatives:
1. Pastoral care phone calls: We started making calls to our Lunchtime Groups leaders. Each phone call was 20-30 minutes long and was an opportunity to hear from them, encourage and support them. As the chat wrapped up I prayed for the student, their Lunchtime Group and their school. Every student was very receptive to the call and one girl even said “Thanks so much for calling. I didn’t really know what to expect but that was just what I needed today!”
Here are some of the highlights and testimonies from the phone calls:
– Each Lunchtime Group is operating differently. Most are still meeting online and continuing on with their studies such as Youth Alpha, using the Mustard studies or their own material.
– Many of those meeting online said it is actually beneficial as students could “just be sent a link”, it isn’t as scary as walking into a room and if people didn’t want to be chatty “they just muted themselves but were still there”. Some groups are getting higher numbers than at school so PLEASE PRAY that these students continue to be interested in faith discussions at school.
– Some groups are having great discussions around the COVID-19 situation including the idea that isolation “makes you realise that not everything lasts but God lasts and that’s the best”!
2. ZOOM Meetings with Lunchtime Groups: We also started getting our Lunchtime Groups leaders together over Zoom. This way they can meet regardless of location – we even had our Lunchtime Groups leader from Scotland join one session! We chat about how their groups are going, they ask questions of each other (the big one being ‘how’s everyone going online’) and we all pray together. It’s been a group community of sharing ideas and being able to support each other in these times. Recently Yiqian went through some training about passing on the leadership baton as some of our students are in Year 12 and moving on soon. PLEASE PRAY that these meetings continue to be encouraging and helpful to all involved.

I want to leave you with one final comment from a year 11 student that encouraged me in my faith:

“In the world there’s a lot of love missing and lots of teens don’t think they’re loved and they need to hear Jesus…There’s often not much hope in the world and the only reason I’m happy is because of Jesus and I wouldn’t be anywhere without Jesus. How do people do life without Jesus?!”

YES YES YES! Our Lunchtime Group leaders are superstars :)

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