A couple weeks ago we noticed we were closing in on a significant milestone of friends on our student ministry’s Facebook page. We decided to give social media a little intentional push during announcements and also to hold a giveaway to one of the new friends as we went over the goal. Don’t be distracted by the number of friends – what’s the point here?

  • Set a goal - 3 months ago we had 1/3rd this number of friends. The goal made a huge difference.
  • Make your Facebook page worth visiting – mobile uploads are your friend. Score a volunteer to oversee updating of pictures and statuses. I would guess most people will visit your Facebook page before visiting in person.
  • Pictures speak volumes - a picture is worth a thousand words. Get some pictures of students having a great time at youth group online.
  • Give to get – yes, the iPod giveaway idea cost us, but gave us an open door of communication with a much larger group of students than we had last week.

Grow your Facebook influence and it will help grow your youth group.


I might not be the best person to take time management advice from – I perpetually run about 15 minutes late to everything. So I don’t have it all together but have found a few ways to squeeze a little extra productivity out of the work week. Here are a few of the ones I like the most:

Get a 10-minute jump start on your day the night before
This one might not be the best one for everyone in case it would upset your restful sleep – but for me I can get a ton of work started if I do a quick check in right before bed. Once the family is set for the night and the house is quiet, I like to steal 10 minutes on webmail to set the day tomorrow. Maybe a quick scan of the calendar, a short reply, or an awareness of tomorrow’s challenges help me prepare mentally for the next day.

Turn off work on your day(s) off
When it is time to be off – be off! I realize that many church cell phones are also your personal phone, but you’ve got to shut them down. If you play hard, it’ll help you focus on work when it is time to work. Religiously take a day off, and make sure you’re really off.

Ditch TV unless you’re exercising or being productive
A great way to make sure you get both exercise and entertainment in during the week is to combine them. If you find yourself killing too much time on the couch, limit the amount of TV you watch by time on the treadmill. You might be surprised by what you could do (start a blog, write a book) if you force yourself to be productive at the same time or drop TV altogether.

Cut the distractions in the office
Turn off your email alerts. Disable Facebook’s constant stream of interruptions. Make sure Twitter isn’t always stealing your focus and concentration. Close your door if you have to. When you give yourself wholly to a task or complete it, reward yourself with a social media break or walk around the church office.

Lump similar tasks together
Let’s say you have to make 5 phone calls, write 15 cards, return 16 emails and work on budgets with multiple people. By putting these tasks into chunks of time you’ll be able to knock them out more quickly. Get in a rhythm, crank out the calls or projects all at once.

How do you squeeze more work into your work week?



 —  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!


Yesterday, we posted our Twitter strategy and coincidentally, Collide Magazine posted a similar article. I wanted to offer four questions to answer before you go forward with developing your own strategy so as to streamline the process. Giving well thought out answers can make the process painless and achievable. Tomorrow, we will look at how we plan to handle networking.

Who do you post tweets for? This can be as simple as “for myself” or as complex as what we said: “Everyone who wants to impact the Church as well as those who love technology and social media …” Remember, the broader you get, the more you will have to keep track of, write for, and network with. In a business model, hopefully this is already written done somewhere. If not, look at your mission or vision statement and hopefully it will become clear. For those that are just posting for fun or as freelance workers, what topics do you find yourself wanting to post?

What is the endgame of your tweets? Do you want your followers to go somewhere to buy something? Are you intended to have them see your blog? Or maybe you simply want us as followers to see how brilliant you are, awesome! For churches, it might be reminders of events. For us, we have stated that “the first line of interest is our ‘product’ including our blogging and projects we are working on.” Whatever it is you are wanting to do, remember that this is your top priority. Retweets and #FridayFollows are great, but these are not the top priority in the vision of this Twitter account. Always keep perspective of that.

When is it best to tweet consistently? For some, once a day is all that they care to post. Others have an automated WordPress plugin like Twitter Tools or scheduling web app like HootSuite to plan things out for you. One advice for multiple daily tweets, space them out through the day. It is good marketing to not only let followers know you exist but remind them throughout the day. For us, we have scheduled tweets from 8AM EST to 5PM PST as well as semi-hourly networking tweets.

Is there value to what you have to say? It is one thing for us to have a strategy of using Twitter and whole other problem of not having anything valuable today. The last thing I care about is that the Chinese food you had for lunch was too much for you. In fact, I might stop following you solely for that reason. We are not asking you to reinvent the wheel, a Scripture verse that caught your eye or a retweet about the latest Google or Apple press release is perfect, but will your audience like it too? At the same, some of it should be coming from you. It does not have to mind-blowing, but should represent you or your organization.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.

Brilliant new Easter-story as told by social media from Igniter. Awesome. As seen on Youth Ministry Geek, if you want to pick up a copy for services this week or next, you can right here.


WorshipHouse Media

I’ve been hearing some great comments and questions about our just-finished You Own the Weekend series, thought I would post a few more answers and clarifications in case it is an idea that might be transferrable to your youth ministry setting. A couple years ago we posted a few different questions about the series idea, here’s a few more answers to the questions you asked this year:

How do you organize the students willing to help? This year we focused our organizational efforts almost entirely through Facebook. Students organized themselves online as well as had meetings in their school a few times leading up to their weekend, too.

Does each school have a point person they go to to organize the logistics of the weekend series? Yes, each week had an adult assigned to be their mentor to help guide them. The idea is that students do everything, but having a key volunteer/staff/intern guide them through unfamiliar processes (like printing the bulletin) and make sure they stay within acceptable youth ministry boundaries.

How do they volunteer, is everyone from the school able to participate? To what extent? A few leaders naturally rose up from each school, and helped determine each other students involvement. Without a doubt there are a few tensions and conflicts that arise, but that is a GREAT learning byproduct of the series. Usually students settle on who will do what, and there are many opportunities to serve in many different capacities.

How do you keep the school spirit side of it from creating division in the group? Great question! Without a doubt the excitement over someone’s school can actually hurt the unity of the student ministry. We took that into account and ended on a strong unity theme. I do think that students enjoyed coming to the other weekends, just to see how the other schools would do.

How do you keep the students from booing when a school is mentioned? This really happened and to be honest, I think as long as it is kept in check it is acceptable. I think there is a little friendly rivalry happening, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

Does creating an environment of healthy competition make the event more successful? It does. We were clear from the beginning that this was in no way a competition, but a little of that does surface during the series. Everyone tries to do their best, and usually weekends take on very different shape/tone from each other so it seems to work out.


Here are a few things that are working well for our ministry right now in social media:

1. iPray. It’s a closed group that students have to request to join. They can post what they need prayer for and pray for each other.

2. Groups. Before or after almost every event there seems to be a group started for it. Before the event groups are started to promote the event. After events like camp, groups are started to help students find each other on Facebook and stay connected.

3. Pictures. EVERY week I take pictures (even if it’s just a few) at our weekend service or at Chick fil A afterward and throw them up on Facebook. Students love it. Not everybody can get away with that, though. It’s kind of funny. A friend dressed up as me at our Halloween party last year and was taking tons of pictures. People kind of freaked out a little until they realized he was just being me for Halloween. I don’t know how to explain that, but there’s something to be learned about having a person known for taking pics in your ministry. We’ve never made me an “official” photographer, people have just gotten used to me doing it.

4. Tag. I usually tag at least one student in each picture and they usually tag each other from there. Always tag your ministry in each picture. As students tag each other, they might see your ministry tagged. That’s just one more door for people to check you out.

5. Open profile. Have your ministry’s profile open to the general public. People should be able to see everything there is to see without being friended with your ministry. I suggest having a profile instead of a page for your ministry. There’s more stuff you can do that way.

6. Daily activity. Go on once a day and wish people happy birthday. That’s a great way for friends of friends to see your ministry. It’s also a great way to have an extra touch in the lives of students… especially students who have stopped coming.

7. Troubleshooting. Look for concerns. If you see students who post status updates that show they are hurting or are posting inappropriate content, shoot them a Facebook email to touch base, encourage, invite out for a Coke. Be careful not to jump on their case if they’re posting inappropriate content. Address it in a redemptive way.

Dennis Beckner has been a volunteer youth worker for 10 years in the high school ministry at Saddleback Church and now runs Celebrate Recovery for Students on Friday nights. Check out his blog for fellow youth workers at VolunteerYouthMinistry.com.

If you are a youth worker, paid or volunteer, you know all of the liabilities that youth ministry faces. From simply driving a student home to planning a hiking trip, you have to constantly think about the safety of the students as well as the safety of those serving the students, including yourself. Using Facebook for ministry is not excluded from this safe environment. Here are just a couple of ideas for keeping all protected:

  • Protect Yourself. Protect Them.
    There is so many news stories of religious clergy overstepping boundaries and getting in trouble, even when they were not doing anything wrong. Do not put yourself or your students in a compromising situation where you could be accused of something. Just like with any form of communicating, watch your words. Unlike any other form of communicating, Facebook is open for the world to see, including over-protective parents or a board member just looking for a reason to fire you.
  • Have Permission Before Posting Pictures
    There could be many reasons a student does not want their picture on Facebook. Their parents are divorced and the parent with custody does not want their ex to see anything. You went swimming and the student is not comfortable having their picture online. The guy just broke up with his girlfriend in the picture and is still upset. Whatever the reason, you should be sensitive to the students and families feelings.
  • Be A Role Model
    Another pitfall is that students can become “addicted” to streams of information on Facebook, which can foster a “gossip mentality,” said Buckley. “When students gather together, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, ‘Did you see so-and-so’s status? Did you see the pics he posted?’ Many times, these statements turn into speculation and gossip, which can be hurtful.”

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.