One of our Gen2 missioners has been keeping children and young people entertained in an unusual way during lockdown – thanks to Taskmaster.
Lizzie Moesbauer, Youth Minister at Whitefriars Church in Rushden, has been organising Taskmaster activities twice a week for the church youth. For those unfamiliar, Taskmaster is a TV show (previously on Dave, now on Channel 4) where comedians are given bizarre challenges to complete in a set amount of time (eg: ‘You have 20 minutes to impress the Mayor of Chesham – go!’ or ‘Make an exotic sandwich’). It has proved to be an extremely popular programme – particularly with young people. But when the coronavirus shutdown first began, the show was far from Lizzie’s mind.
“When we went into lockdown like the rest of the country, we were not able to continue the discipleship group that we would run on a Sunday night,” explains Lizzie. “I knew that I needed to do something to engage with young people, but I did not know what to do. I decided to make a WhatsApp group with them (with their parents’ permission) and we just started chatting. I thought it was great that we were still able to engage with one another but I felt like something was missing.
“I was struggling to decide about what else we could do, because I wanted them to have fun, but I had no idea how to carry on doing engaging youth work in this strange world that we had found ourselves living in.”
But then Lizzie thought back to a time when the church’s youth had been able to meet – Soul Survivor 2019 – and inspiration struck.
“I came up with the idea of setting them challenges because we had been playing Taskmaster at Soul Survivor last summer, which they loved doing,” she says.
Young people and their families have therefore been asked to submit videos of themselves completing crazy tasks. The tasks have included such challenges as ‘Recreate a picture of yourself’, ‘Make a big version of something small’, ‘Human buckaroo – balance as many items on a person as possible’ and ‘Put a tea bag in a mug’, with one particular family in the church managing to throw a tea bag continuously around Rushden before putting the kettle on!
The most popular task, though, has been ‘Make a music video’, with families filming clips for such songs as ‘Runaway Baby’ by Bruno Mars and Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’. Seeing people of all ages getting involved in the challenges has been extremely satisfying for Lizzie.
“It has been great being able to see the youth include their family in these challenges,” she says. “Young people relish being silly and having fun with each other, even when they cannot physically be together. Since doing these challenges, I have also learned that that they are extremely competitive!”
This competitiveness has also been used by Lizzie in organising monthly Zoom quizzes for the whole church, which have proved a popular way to spend a Saturday evening. However, her work with the youth remains Lizzie’s first priority. Taskmaster is proving a hit but their spiritual care comes first.
“I was struck that throughout all of this fun that we (myself and the youth) had not brought God into any of our conversations, so I decided to start doing Zoom calls as well. We currently meet every Sunday night, play some games, share our highs and lows of the week, and pray for one another. I have really enjoyed being able to see the group in real-time. However, as most youth leaders have found, trying to do anything structured over Zoom with young people is near-on impossible!”