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How to Communicate with Students

 —  May 22, 2012 — 9 Comments

Thought we would take a quick look this week at ways to communicate with students—ways that are Hot or Not. Here’s our take; feel free to offer your opinion in the comments as well:

HOT: Facebook
This is where our money is at right now—the highlight of the tools we’re using to communicate with students. The only downside is that a youth ministry page requires constant updates and management to really be effective. And there’s a desire to spend time on our OWN pages instead of building up the church site. Facebook is where it’s at, so get on board to get it mastered just in time for your students to move on to something else.

NOTE: Our junior high ministry uses Facebook, but not as strategically as high school. We walk a fine line due to the reality that Facebook has age restrictions, but most junior highers are still there.

NOT: Email
When you’re communicating to parents, email is as hot as can be. The older people get the more possessive/stagnant they become with technology. Students on the other hand are quick to jump on what is next, usually before adults have even heard of it. If you are emailing students and it is working, realize that it is a miracle of God and won’t last very long. Email is out.

HOT: Texting
Probably right up there with Facebook is texting—it comes in two flavors: individual and mass, and both work incredibly well. Use a service like Simply Text or Duffled to build a list of everyone, and don’t discount the power of a personal text from their small group leader or youth pastor. Texting is where it is at right now for sure.

NOT: Paper
You’ve gotten very good at Publisher 2003. I get it. You like clip art and flyers made on the church photocopier. We do too, but those days have past. Sorry to be the one to break it to you.

HOT: Facebook event pages
Different from your main Facebook page are the event pages you create for service projects, mission trips, or special events. These are usually syncing with many students’ phones now, so you get calendar reminders as well as triggers built into to social media. A classic win-win-win situation.

HOT: Calendars
Calendars, if they make it home, have a tremendous return. Put a magnet on the back and you might get on the refrigerator for 2-3 months!

NOT: mass postcards in the mail
The shelf life is just too short for a postcard for a series and the cost is typically prohibitive, too. I love these and am sad to see them already fading out, but unless you’ve got cash to spare or a cheap printer to crank them out this one is dropping quickly.

HOT: individualized postcards from small group leaders
This one will never go out of style. Try it out this week: Pick up some postage-paid postcards and scribble out a few handwritten notes this week and see if it works. Or just trust us…no technology will ever replace the power of a handwritten note!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Josh Griffin

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9 responses to How to Communicate with Students

  1. This is good stuff and I see these same things being hot or not in our ministry as well with one exception: For most of our students(especially the High School students) twitter has very much overtaken facebook. This is strange to me because they really serve different purposes(twitter is simple, facebook is deeper), but I have found it increasingly harder to communicate via facebook. Maybe I need to make my Sunday morning messages 140 characters…

  2. Raymond Dubert May 22, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I have to echo Kraig’s thoughts. Our high school youth are starting to migrate to twitter. (I think because their parents don’t have accounts yet. You’d be surprised the stuff that gets tweeted.) In other words, unless Facebook simplifies and strips down all the junk, don’t buy stock in Facebook. Ken Mcintyre had a great post on using Buffer to post to facebook and twitter anytime you want at kenmcintyre.org

  3. I’d agree – but think we’re on the very front end of Twitter and HS students – the early adopters are there for sure … JG

  4. HOT – The Phone: Best connection, best ROI, best intentionality……. BEST BEST BEST

    Nothing drives the success of an event like a phone call, put together a team to ring those phones.

  5. Most of my students are not on twitter and have no idea what it is. (They think it’s for celebrities) While I’m on twitter constantly, they are not. So, we use a combo of Facebook and texting and it works for us. Postagram is an awesome app that lets our leaders take pictures of our students serving or attending an event and turns it into a postcard we send to their house. It’s a big hit with our students!

  6. Danny Nettleton May 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    You may be wrong about paper! In the early to mid double zeros paper was considered very un cool. Fonts and clip arts that used to make things look professional came off to teens that knew their way around a computer as cheap and amateurish. While Publisher newsletters may not be making a comeback, I think paper is. Teens never get ANYTHING in the mail. The texts they get in a day are in the double, even triple digits. Each week I send out a handwritten newsletter under a cool looking letterhead, inwhich I joke, draw pictures, and most importantly tell kids what’s coming up over the weekend. The kids love it! I combine this with a Facebook group and a text messaging service but if they had to choose between the three they’d all pick the paper newsletter.

  7. Text is great for short reminders. FB event page is pretty good for the details. But in my experience, nothing beats a phone call or personal note to connect with kids. Great post!

  8. @Geoff … I agree, I just hate the phone SO much! Hahahah JG

  9. I have an issue with texting and Facebook because a lot of our parents do not want their kids receiving texts or being Facebook friends with any adults, even church staff. So I rely on e-mail for most things. I put out Facebook reminders and updates on our group, but only about half of them get it. We got parental permission to text, but again, only about half of them would authorize it, so it’s a pain to keep track of who we can text and who we can’t. Any thoughts?

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