In ministry we have to meet students where they’re at, and in this age, that place is social media. Social media has been an incredibly powerful tool in our ministry for connecting with our students and community.  Here is how we are using it:

Facebook: The great thing about Facebook is that almost every student has one.  I actually do the majority of my work on Facebook.  Because students rarely check their email, Facebook is one of the main resources our ministry uses to communicate with students.  Through it, we can advertise upcoming events, invite them to serving projects, post pictures and videos from previous events, and simply advertise our ministry as a whole.  We also us it to create “groups” for every ministry team, missions team, small group, etc.  Groups are an awesome way to build community and share specific information.

Instagram: For those of you who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, Instagram is an app on smart phones that allows you to have your own profile where you can post, “like,” or comment on pictures.  Since there are so many students that have these, we made an account for our ministry.  It has proven to be an excellent way to advertise all of the things we have going on.  We also post pictures of students or funny things we see to give our ministry personality.

YouTube: We make sure we upload every video onto our ministry’s account.   Not only do we upload the promo and teaching videos we show during the weekend, we also post clips from the service (mostly from the speaker).  Every once in a while we will compile a short video with the main points of the speakers message to catch students up on what they missed or remind them of what they learned.  After we upload our videos, we share them on Facebook and spread it to as many people as possible.

How are you using social media in your ministry?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs a really big high five.

#SometimesMinistryIs receiving panicked calls from mommas who need your help with their teens.

‪‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs laughing so hard that you are crying.

#SometimesMinistryIs calling a student out and helping them to see their own sin.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs just dropping by to see how someone is doing.

‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs filling up water balloons… and throwing them.

#SometimesMinistryIs knowing a student has made some really bad choices but always making sure they know that you and Christ love them.

#SometimesMinistryIs buying a teenager a milkshake.

‪‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs sitting by the bed of someone at a nursing home.

#SometimesMinistryIs dancing and singing kids’ songs really really loudly!

#SometimesMinistryIs taking a student out to lunch so they can talk with you about something serious.

#SometimesMinistryIs playing a game of ultimate frisbee so intense that you rip off a toenail.

 

Ministry is Professional.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs scrambling to find one more chaperone for summer camp.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs intense (and slightly boring) budget planning.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs encouraging someone to volunteer to do something you know they would be GREAT at.

#Sometimes MinistryIs staff meetings.

#SometimesMinistryIs stopping in your busy schedule to do the hard work of praying for students.

#SometimesMinistryIs insisting on a medical release form, even though it is inconvenient.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs a non-church civic club meeting, because you’re investing in the community.

#SometimesMinistryIs playing phone tag FOREVER with someone to solve an important question.

‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs the best job in the world.

#SometimesMinistryIs not a job at all; it is instead the calling that your other job pays the bills to allow you to do.

 

Ministry includes Your Own Family.‪‪

#SometimesMinistryIs praying with your spouse.

#SometimesMinistryIs date night with your daughter, even if you have to miss a church thing.

#SometimesMinistryIs empowering your spouse to do their own ministry

#SometimesMinistryIs playing with your own children at home at night, and ignoring a phone call.

 

Ministry is Always God.

‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs sitting at a table with a brother pouring over the Word planning to present it in a new and exciting way.

#SometimesMinistryIs watching a student make bad decisions and knowing the best thing you can do about it is to pray.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs listening to a student explain the gospel back to you and praising God for his Christian parents’ training.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs listening to a student explain the gospel back to you, and realizing they do not yet understand what it is they are thinking about doing

‪#SometimesMinistryIs having to take a step back so that you don’t get in the way of what God is trying to do.

#SometimesMinistryIs just the purest ecstasy of full-on, eyes-closed, on-your-face worship of the One who saved you from yourself.

 

Ministry.

#ManyTimesMinistryIs just plain hard.

#AlwaysMinistryIs worth it.

#Always.

(Special thanks to @ColvinEarl @savedman97 for their contributions.)

Aaron Tucker has served teenagers since he was one, and currently serves youth of all ages at First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Mississippi. He is Oklahoma-born (Go Sooners!) and Mississippi-raised (Go Bulldogs!), and loves Christ and family and coffee and youth ministry in Small Town USA. He tweets @Rev_Tucker



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.

Here are a few ideas for getting the message you teach at church outside the church walls.

  • I will often have a “Thought of the Week” or some phrase or verse that will ask students to share on their Facebook wall and tweet.
  • We host a facebook group for Student Leadership Team, this is a great place to train, ask questions, and encourage a specific group of students.
  • Sometimes I post a preview video on our youth ministries facebook page. This is simply a short video (30-45 sec) letting them know what we will be talking about the next time we meet.
  • I have not played this with our group yet but I hope to use the game “Facebook Hack” soon.  check out the details at morethandodgeball.
  • We created a segment video called “Off The Wall.”  I ask staff to find and hoard some funny, silly, ridiculous status updates, see the video below.



Today  Google launched their redesign of Google+. I have not used Google+ for months, it seemed clunky, a little awkward, and all my connections were on facebook.  I did not see the need to leave one social network that is working great for another that is not tremendously better. This redesign make the site look simple and it’s easy on the eyes. My site is up and running but I hear it is not all happening at once. Looks like they will roll out gradually over the next few days.

One thing i love about Google+ is it’s “hangouts.”  I will host a “hangout” in the near future.  A designated time when we can gather via Google+ video and chat about a youth ministry tech topic or two.

Thanks for the heads up Justin Boling ‏ (@Jbols)!

Recently I have been reminded about a painful truth about ministry life and the pastor sub-culture that each of us is a part of whether we like it or not. Sitting having a coffee with a student last week I was reminded of this:

What doesn’t matter to students:

1-Who follows / mentions us on Twitter

2-Where we spoke on the weekend

3-How many people read our blogs

What does matter to them:

1-That we love Jesus and passionately model that relationship to them.

2-That we sincerely care about their life and their story.

3- That we encourage them and pray for them often.

In the midst of opportunities and distractions, its so easy to forget that the students that we lead don’t care about all the other stuff. They just need us to Pastor and lead them, to accept them and encourage them, be there when we say we will and passionately shepherd them. Our integrity to speak about leadership is rooted in us being healthy, rooted leaders at the local Church level working in the trenches.

-Geoff (Twitter)




I hit several sites a day, staying conencted, looking for deals, checking social media.  Here are the sites I hit most every day…multiple times a day.

DEALS…
•  I usually do not go to be until after midnight so the first site I hit is WOOT!  Woot is the best one deal a day website and they have several sister sites listed on the right of their page, click’em all.
•  AppShopper top 200 (sort by changed to see the fast movers)
•  Bens Bargains
•  1SaleaDay

NEWS…
•  Google Reader
•  Engadget
•  Digg

SOCIAL MEDIA…
• 
Twitter
•  Facebook

APPS…
•  Fighter Verse
•  YouVersion
•  Logos
• 
Facebook
•  HootSuite
•  Zite
•  Pulse
•  Reeder

This week I started something new – something honestly I’ve been meaning to do as a young dad and as a safe driver. This week when I’m driving, my phone is in the glove box. It isn’t something I feel totally comfortable doing yet, but I’m making it a priority from now on. I’m telling you, there’s both some incredible freedom and opportunity in this! Here’s why my phone is in the glove box:

To be more disconnected from the information hydrant
Life you – my phone is constantly buzzing. A Twitter here, a text there, a flood of emails – it doesn’t stop. Even when my phone doesn’t ring or vibrate, I sometimes instinctively check it to see if I missed anything! It’s kind of sad, to be honest. Living that way isn’t healthy, so disconnect yourself at least while you drive. You’ll be surprised how little you miss when you drive to the local high school or to your lunch appointment. A few less inputs will help your output, I promise you.

To be more focused on my kids
I drive my kids around quite a bit – to school each morning, to football practice in the afternoon and tons more throughout a given week. Putting my phone in my pocket isn’t enough! I’ll cheat a glance here and there, stopping great conversations while I place importance on what other people are broadcasting instead of what my own kids are saying.

To be more focused on the road
I’ll admit it – I text while driving – despite while being illegal here in California. Last week I was stopped at a light and absent-mindedly let my foot slip off the brake pedal. I just nudged the car in front of me with absolutely no damage, but I was also nudged to take care of this. I have a responsibility to the road and I’m not honoring our state law.

To be a good example
If a student asked me if I texted while driving this week – I would have no defense. It is a battle I haven’t chosen to fight – until now. I want to model what a safe driver and responsible law-abider looks like – if I sacrifice my integrity or cheat a little bit here, it will subtly encourage them to lve the same way – and usually in far more important matters than this.

Who’s with me?

JG