Speak Teen SPEAK!

 —  August 2, 2013 — Leave a comment

texting

In our ministry we have a rule.  No cell phones in use while the students are present and our programming is in action.  This rule goes for volunteers, staff and participants.  Unless you are using a “Bible App” to look up scripture, we shouldn’t see it,  and yes I check it.   This summer as we have had a number of our teens actually volunteering in our elementary age day camps I have seen something interesting.  At 2:00 the moment program ends and the last child walks out the door,  cell phones immediately emerge!  It’s like the texting/social media/ smart phone zombie apocalypse has taken root.  Heads are down, eyes ablaze as they catch up on all the pertinent information they have “missed” in the last 4 hours of “no phone zone.”

As I have text to talked or been FB direct messaged on major life issues I just have to wonder if scripting every thought is an easier way to go?  Since TONE doesn’t exist well in word/online communication a lot of drama erupts that could be avoided with at least a phone conversation and even more so with facial expressions and body language in play.   In short, I think we need to encourage students to learn how to sit down and use their voice once again.

Please hear me.  I am not anti-text/social media connections.  What I am seeing is that this the “goto” method of “talking.” I wonder if we are raising a generation that avoids face to face communication? Have they forgotten how to speak?

Can we do anything about that?  Here are some starting places:

  • Meet With Students One on One:

When I started in youth min, my mentor would say,  “If you want to get to know a kid take them out for a soda.”  What we did or drank was arbitrary.  The point was being present with each other.  Sit face to face, make eye contact and talk about deep issues,  outside of programming.  If at all possible draw in other adults and small group leaders to do the same.  Begin to teach, that this is the way we handle the “toughest stuff.”  It’s unscripted, raw, messy and uncomfortable.  That’s good.

  • Encourage Parents To Draw Lines.

I get it. The battle for independence with anyone from 6-12 grade is constant.  It’s also part of adolescence.  We drew up “electronic contracts” for our kids that not only included appropriate use, but times when cell phones are not “allowed.”   This has helped tremendously.

  • Be a good example:

I admit it,  I can be the worse at this one I was convicted even recently about how if I want to teach students the importance of communication beyond written form and the need to put the cell phone aside when talking to someone,  I have to step up and do the same.

Students need to learn to have a full conversation,  face to face conversation when they are totally present.  There is a place for tweets, Facebook, email and text, it just shouldn’t be the ONLY way we talk to each other.

What are YOU doing to help this generation learn the art of “in person” communication?

 

 

 

With summer quickly approaching schedules change, people leave and you are ready for a BREAK. If you’ve been in ministry long enough you know that summer is one of the most important times of year because it enables you to make tweaks and changes without disrupting the momentum. It’s also a time for you to relax, grow and experience new things with your students (i.e. mission trips). The only problem is it’s also a perfect opportunity for:

  • Momentum to Fade
  • Volunteers to Drop Out
  • Teens to Forget About Your Ministry
  • You to Fall Behind in Your Work

To avoid these pitfalls and summertime blues it’s important to treat summer as seriously as you do any other season. To do this you need a strategy. If you want to avoid your summertime mishaps and come out on the other side focused and ready for the fall, be sure to:

  • Keep True To Your Schedule: The tendency is to just shut it all down over the summer. While you do need periods of rest, it’s important not to lose the time frame you work hard to promote. If you aren’t going to meet regularly with your teens still keep your program time as an opportunity to meet with parents, host trainings or check-in meetings for the camps and events. Make sure people are reminded that your designated ministry time is still on their minds.
  • Be Consistent But Keep It Light: While you want to maintain your meeting time, don’t feel like you need to maintain the work load. Look at cutting certain components (i.e. technology or activities) that take a lot of preparation and focus on the relationships, which can happen more organically. By planning light you give yourself the capacity to focus on strengthening your leaders and giving yourself some much needed rest.
  • Switch The Focus: During the year your focus is on growing disciples amongst the teens. In the summer change that focus to your leaders. Find times to meet with them, hang out, invest and grow with them spiritually. It’s a time to be reflective, to cast vision and remind them about the importance of their commitment. Make it social; however, make it educational at the same time.
  • Communicate, Communicate and Communicate: Despite your schedule keep the communication air waves open. Maybe it’s sending your leaders a postcard while on vacation or checking in with teens via Facebook/Twitter. Let parents know some of the tweaks and changes happening over the summer. Give teens a chance to check back in, when they are in town. Let them know that you are still thinking about them.

Summer might be your break and it might be a time for serious planning. Regardless of how you use it, make sure you approach it wisely. Do not forget about your audience while you recover from a full year of ministry. No matter your take on the summer make sure you have a strategy as the weather turns warmer.

How do you avoid summertime blues?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)



If you haven’t checked out Simply Youth Ministry Tools’ CONTACT yet, you might want to give it a look. It is a really slick and totally free web-based program that allows you to store all of your contact information for your youth ministry in one place. It also plays nice with the other pay-for tools in their toolkit like COMMUNICATE, a texting service to connect with your students. Check it out!

JG

HSMBlog.com

 —  May 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

We just launched HSMBlog.com – our new official site for the High School Ministry at Saddleback Church. It was created and designed by our recently upgraded-to-full-time Parker Stech, and is built on the Tumblr platform. Turned out great!

JG