Terrace Crawford is a youth worker and the author of Going Social, a new book out this month from Beacon Hill Press with the official site at GoingSocialBook.Net. Here’s an interview with him about his new book and you can read his blog here.

1 Tell us about the origin of your new book!
I meet a lot of church leaders who are hesitant to use Social Media for whatever reason. I think Social Media is one of the greatest tools of our time that God wants to use to help spread the message of the Gospel. I felt I could help provide a resource that would help dispel many of the common myths that keep church leaders from leveraging Social Media and also offer bite-sized tips on how to use it for ministry.

2 What is one of the most common mistakes when using social media?
My heart behind using any Social Media platform is to use it to connect with people. Whether you have a blog, a twitter or Facebook account, or a YouTube channel, you can use these tools to build relationships. You can inspire people, challenge people, and yes, even connect them to Christ! I think people sometimes forget that.

3 What are the best social tools for youth workers to connect with their students?
The best way to connect with students is generally by going where they already are. Students love Facebook, so you’d be fool to not use it. I have seen a lot more teens flocking to Twitter lately, so having using a Twitter account is a great idea. Some youth workers even use Twitter as a text-messaging service because any student can follow the updates regardless of whether or not they have a Twitter account. I also love using Simply’s Communicate tool to push mass text messages to our students.

4 Tell us about your passion for youth ministry – preferably with a great failure story?
Years ago I was planning to lead my youth group to summer camp.  We were literally two days out (from going) and I talked two kids who needed Christ into going along with us. Forms were completed, notarized (which seemed to take an act of congress at the time), and were hand-delivered to me the day before while I was attending a luncheon. I misplaced the forms and did not look for them (or even think to!) until the next morning upon our departure. At the last second I realized I was in deep trouble. It immediately hit me that the forms may have been left at the lunch table… and yep, thrown into the trash. In a last ditch effort I got on the phone and tried getting parents to have the necessary forms faxed directly to the camp. We all loaded up the bus (in faith that this would work!) and circled the parking lot only for me  to find that one of my star volunteers was found digging through the trash to look for the forms!  I’ll have that horrible site etched in my brain –forever!  I hugged my staffer and thanked him for going to such great lengths for students. Then we got on the road and headed to camp. Long story short… the forms were faxed by the parents, we had a great time at camp… and the two students accepted Christ by the end of the week!   I learned several things through this: 1) I hate camp forms.  2) I needed a personal assistant,  3) My staff will go to great lengths for teens! and  4) I love seeing students accept Christ!

5 What’s next for you? Got another book on tap or project in the works?
I am currently focusing on my student ministry and my Youth Worker Coaching Network right now, but yes, I do have a book idea I’m marinating on (but not yet ready to share).  I hope to develop the idea further and turn it into a book because I feel it will help a lot of people who are struggling in the church today.

JG

NewThru30: The New Testament in 60 Seconds from Elevation Church on Vimeo.

NewThru30: The Old Testament in 60 Seconds from Elevation Church on Vimeo.

I Tweeted last night that we were continuing The Book series (40 Days in the Word Campaign) in our high school ministry by teaching a New Testament survey in 30 minutes. My friend Terrace shot me a couple videos from Elevation Church that would fit perfectly if you want to do this series or a similar one in the future!

JG



Enjoyed Jake and Kurt’s Simply Youth Ministry Show episode 2 today – this one focuses on communication with special guests Adam McClane, Tim Schmoyer and Terrace Crawford.

JG

I liked Terrace Crawford’s post this week about students fading out of youth group. It happens to the best of us. He gave 5 reasons why this happens – some are pretty insightful and especially timely this time of year. Here’s a clip of his thoughts, head there for the rest:

1. Everything is predictable: We live in a world that is constantly changing. It’s moving at such a fast pace. Old things are being replaced with new things and what worked 10 years ago doesn’t work any longer. Church leaders don’t seem to get this. We move at a slower pace, aren’t apt to change, or still take stock in last year’s offerings. The truth is, we’ve become boring and predictable… and teens lose interest quick. Action item: Take as much time each week to think through the environment you are creating as you do on the message or program itself.

5. The problem isn’t you: Youth pastors get blamed for many things. Sometimes we put the blame on ourselves. Over the years I’ve probably been hardest on myself when I thought a student stopped showing up because of me. We must realize that in many cases the problem isn’t us to begin with. Sometimes teenagers don’t show up because of circumstances outside of our control. I’ll offer 3 possibilities here: the student is involved in extra curricular activities and cannot come, they cannot get a ride to church, or my personal favorite, the kid is grounded from church! Action item: Continue to reach out to teenagers who aren’t regularly attending. Students need to know you care about them regardless of whether or not they are present for your program.

JG



Been thinking the last couple of weeks about the leading voices of youth ministry. A post on Terrace’s blog and the ensuing comments (thanks for the kind words) finally triggered me to write up those thoughts:

THEN
In the past, youth workers were limited in really having a chance to lead other youth ministries – technology and geography among other things limited the sphere of influence a youth worker could have in shaping youth ministry as a whole. A few distinct and highly influential voices rang out, predominantly the youth pastors at large churches [Willow Creek, Saddleback] or point leaders of influential youth ministry organizations [YS, Group]. This has remained the case to this day [NewSpring, Northpoint], and to some degree it should be that way. These key leaders have perspectives on youth ministry from an accelerated vantage point from the crowd of youth workers, they tend to see things before they happen (kind of like a Jedi) and have the potential to gain experience more quickly with multiple services, geography and reach.

NOW
The voices of youth ministry today are potentially limitless. Everyone and their mother can have a blog in about 3 seconds and for free. Technology has leveled the playing field to everyone, though the good stuff still rises to the top. Regardless of the source, the best ideas win. In the past, you just didn’t hear what was out there aside from published works or the leaders in your local network. A conference here or there opened up the circle a bit, but even then it was severely limiting. The internet has changed the game. Micro-publishing changed the game. Every youth worker now has the potential to share their voice with youth ministry as a whole. There will always be authors, leaders of leaders, voices that speak for the next generation of youth workers – but the game-changing shift has already happened – the new voice of youth ministry is everyone.

What’s missing is you.

Your voice is the most important voice in youth ministry. You might not have the largest youth ministry or connections to get your stuff published somewhere in print or even get a link from a prominent blog. Who cares? Your voice, your experiences, your challenges, your inspration – it will inspire others and probably inspire you, too. It will encourage someone who is about to quit. It will meet the need of a youth worker who Googled their pain and found your help. It will remind you day after day why you got into this in the first place and to hang in there when things get ugly.

I have enormous respect for the youth ministry-shapers of the past. I am in youth ministry today because of the writings of Doug Fields, Tic Long, Duffy Robbins, Mike Yaconelli and others. But not everyone has to become an author. Not everyone has to be a conference speaker. Not everyone has to be the next big thing. But … we all need to have a voice. We all need to share our experience and calling. Hey, I want to steal your ideas. I want to find comradery in my calling when I read about the goof YOU made in front of your students. I want to learn from you, too.

So what are you waiting for? If you don’t want to start a blog, write a guest post for this coming weekend. If you don’t think you have it in you to actually write a book, do it a page at a time on a blog. You might be surprised how quickly … and I would say how critically important … you find your voice in youth ministry.

Who is the new voice of youth ministry? You.

JG