Boccalupo Keeps Youth Engaged, Strong

Boccalupo Keeps Youth Engaged, Strong

In the best of times, keeping youth engaged is a worthwhile but challenging prospect, but DCE Christ Boccalupo finds new ways to sustainably engage youth during a global pandemic

If you ever have the opportunity to speak with the Director of Christian Education Christopher Boccalupo of Trinity Lutheran Church, Islip, New York, make sure you ask about the amazing experiences he has had leading Youth Groups and Young Adults in faith. You will get tired just listening to him!

For the past 28 years, Mr. Boccalupo has served in all areas of Christian Education. He currently oversees Youth Group, High School Youth Group, Sunday School, Young Adult studies and fellowship, and the First Communion and Confirmation classes. From cradle to Confirmation and beyond, Chris works with meeting youth where they are, making sure they are taught the Word, as he walks alongside them on their personal journeys of faith.

Anticipating difficulties and planning for various Christian education needs is not an easy task. Earlier this year, Chris and the leadership of Trinity were trying to expand ways of keeping connected with their existing congregation and increasing the involvement of children and young adults. No one could have properly prepared them for the pandemic that was on the horizon!

With the onset of the virus, Chris knew keeping connected with the youth was paramount. The youth group met weekly online, beginning in mid-March through June. In an effort to quench growing concerns and fears, while at the same time balancing the ever-changing pandemic protocols and supporting the desires of their youth, Chris planned low-key, socially distant gatherings. They took advantage of the warm summer months and met outside on the church property. These opportunities provided for open discussions about the things that were on the hearts of their youth. They spoke about their identity in Christ, the importance of unity, and the current racial tensions that are affecting our nation today.

Trinity Lutheran was in the middle of First Communion and Confirmation classes when they were notified to close their church building because of the pandemic. Virtual classes were organized to make sure the students could complete their studies. Chris is happy to report that with the ease of some of the COVID restrictions, the First Communion and Confirmation celebrations will be incorporated into church services. Bible study classes have even been able to resume as Trinity’s congregation continues to adjust to this new “normal.”

 Using YouTube, Sunday School lessons were embedded into the body of Trinity’s virtual Sunday Worship services. Materials were emailed prior to the service allowing each family to lead their own children in the lessons.

In addition to being Trinity’s DCE, Chris is also the head of the Atlantic District Task Force 5: Youth. This position has allowed him to be deeply involved with multiple regional, district, and national youth gatherings. He has also been instrumental in providing Youth Leader Training for the District.

When I asked Chris for closing comments, he said, “I want to make sure I am doing all I can to equip people to guide their children in faith, to keep people connected in Christ, and to make sure they know I care."

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