Follow-Up-Tips-ScriptsI just sent a quick message to my small group leaders thanking them for leading and offering a quick tip on caring for their students. I hope this is helpful for you, and if you really like it feel free to send it to your leaders. Just delete my name and add yours. Here it is:

“Hey Friends!

Hope your groups are going well. This week we are talking about the power of words. (They all received a download with small group Q’s and a weekly study to give to students). Thanks for leading well, thanks for taking good attendance, and thanks for loving students.

If you see a student is missing, please contact them. Here are a few texting tips…

Tips:
• Don’t wait for a student to miss 3 times, send a message every time. (We live in a day where a short text message is commonplace).
• Coordinate with your co-leader so that student doesn’t feel ganged up on.
• Do your best to be positive and not judgemental…Here are some example (remember the power of words)

BAD:
“Did not see you tonight, what could be more important than us?”
“I heard you were at (insert sport here), you play 3x a week we only meet once a week, come on! :) JK see you next week”
“Missed you tonight, You must love the devil”

GOOD:
“Hey, Missed you tonight, will be be here next week?”
“Tonight we talked about the power of words, you always have good input, missed you tonight”
“Hope to see you next week, I pray for my SLG guys/girls weekly, can you send me a couple things to pray about for you?”

You are the best!”
Brandon

If a picture is worth a thousand words… how many characters is it worth?

Please tell me you see the irony in this photo.

texting

The fastest way to become a Pharisee… is to hate Pharisees.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

 



App: Text Later

 —  January 28, 2014 — 1 Comment

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I get pretty excited when I download a new app that actually finds its way into regular use. My latest fave is called “Text Later.” Every once in a while I have something I need to text, but it is not the right time. But too often, when the right time hits I forget to do it.

The other day I asked my friend if he would email me a file, he said “sure” and to send him a text reminder. I could have been “that guy” and text him on the spot (Ha, ball in your court), but that is lame. What I normally would do is put the message in my phone as a reminder, but now I use “Text Later.”

With “Text Later“…
• I enter my message in the app.
• Schedule when I want to send the text.
• At the time I scheduled the app forces open iOS Messages app with the message in it.
• If I am ready to send, I hit send.
• That’s it.

There are a few apps in the app store like this, and they all seem to get a few bad reviews because they do not actually “send” the text at the time scheduled, they place the message in a text and remind the user to send it at the designated time. This is a restriction with Apple–not app developers.

 

Dear Reviewers ★☆☆☆☆,

I am thankful Apple does not let 3rd party apps control this feature. I do not want apps rooting through my contacts and spamming in my name.

Truly Yours,
Brandon Early
@uthguy9

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?

 

 

 



Our ministry once hosted a “Battle of the Bands” fundraiser that required a lot of work. Our team had to audition bands, price out food, order speakers and recruit volunteers. We put so much work into this event; however, we forgot one key component:

TO INVITE PEOPLE

We had sent out an email, and made a few flyers; however, that was it. What was the response? Embarrassing. While a few people showed up, they were mostly friends and families of the band. It was a disaster.

Developing a communication strategy is a must in youth ministry and while it doesn’t seem like the most attractive responsibility, without it you can’t expect your ministry to grow. Developing a strategy for how you communicate means being intentional about what you say, how you say it and to whom. That means:

  1. Scheduling a Designated Time: Your communication efforts need your focus; therefore, give yourself allotted time to respond to emails and voicemails. Carve time to work on a message and schedule your social media posts ahead of time with software like Simply Youth Ministry Tools, Hootsuite and BufferDevelop a plan so you don’t rush and create a costly mistake.
  2. Understanding Your Mediums: Part of a communications strategy is understanding that people utilize different mediums. We are no longer in the days of emails and phone calls. Understanding the power of your platform by utilizing social media, texting and even your message is key to getting your point across. Pick a few resources that you feel most of your target audience uses and practice using them.
  3. Gaining Feedback: Get someone’s insight and feedback before you post something online, respond to an important email or deliver a message. The problem with electronic communication is that it can be difficult to read emotion and once it’s out there, IT’S OUT THERE. You never want to come off patronizing, sarcastic or offensive to your audience. So before you hit SEND, ask a friend to share their thoughts.
  4. Knowing Your Audience: Come off patronizing to parents and they won’t take you seriously. Speak over a teenager’s head and you’ll lose their engagement. Know your audience by spending time with them; however, do not try to be them. The best way to speak to any audience is to acknowledge when you are an expert and when you are not. People will appreciate your humility if they know it’s coming from sincerity.
  5. Repeat, Repeat and Repeating:You can’t say something only once and expect people to remember it. Repeat it, tweak it and then repeat it again. Utilize all the different mediums, and stagger it so that it doesn’t get lost in the noise.

If you communicate clearly and effectively you will be able to mobilize the next generation. Develop a strategy and make it a part of your daily responsibilities so that you are never wondering if you’ve been heard. To get one started takes a little bit of commitment; however, once you get going the possibilities are endless.

Which of these tips is the hardest one for you to embrace?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

If you work with the youth of America in any fashion, be it youth ministry or as a parent, you know that we have identified this generation by the inventions that they have been raised among. Some call them the Internet Generation or the Digital Gen, which leads many to assume that this generation not only is always online through a digital interface some how, but that they actually prefer it.

That notion could not be further from the truth. But before we get there, let’s look at how they got that name.

  • 90% of teenagers are connected to the Internet through phones, laptops, or gaming devices. In fact, there are more ways to get online now than ever before.
  • 68% of teens text daily, girls more than guys
  • 51% visit Facebook daily, sometimes for more than 3 hours a day
  • Some rough estimates believe the average teen is on a digital device up to 13 hours a day and can be as high as 18 hours!

While those numbers seem to scream that they have a problem, what those numbers do not reflect are what the teens know about this heavy usage and their desires for something more.

  • 1/3 of teens actually long for time off from the Internet while 36% of teens wish they could go back to a time when there was no Facebook.
  • 49% of the surveyed teens prefer a face-to-face conversation above any other form of communication.
  • 41% of teens consider themselves addicted to their phones and 43% wish they could unplug (half of those wish their parents would join them too!)

[Study from CommonSenseMedia.org]

The question for you, be you youth pastor or parent, teacher or just someone who sees teens at church, how are you helping or hindering the situation? They had to learn these habits from somewhere and be given permission (even if it is an unspoken one) from someone. Are you perpetuating the problem or offering a solution?

If you do not get anything else from this article, hear this: teenagers not only want face-to-face conversations, but they want to be heard. Sometimes it comes across as needy and whiny, but they are navigating a turbulent time in their lives where their identity is shifting from being within a family to developing into an adult and it is not a safe journey by any means.

What can you do within your context to promote a healthier way of communicating that honors the teenagers?

Jeremy Smith is a youth worker at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years — check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.



 

I was hanging out with Erik Williams a few weeks back and he told me about this video he was making with the leaders at the youth group he volunteers at. They were rolling out a new relational ministry effort to help students understand that their leader want to connect with them. Each leader was given business cards with their cell phone numbers on them. To launch this, they made this awesome parody video.

Enjoy

-Geoff (Twitter)

Summer is crazy busy! And while the amount of activities and schedule vary from ministry to ministry, there’s no denying that summer can be a challenging time of year.

So how do you make the most of summer activities? Here are a few ways that might help you fall in love with summer as your favorite season of ministry:

Give your summer interns or key volunteers a chance to lead.
Take the summer off from teaching—and work on getting some of your people up front. Better yet, consider asking students to teach a series as well. Just because you’re not speaking doesn’t mean that it won’t be work for you helping coach them and assist in crafting their talks, but the effort will be worth it. You get a chance to listen and be refreshed while less experienced teachers are being developed.

Try something new…really new.
This summer, we brainstormed up a ton of new ways to engage students. We came up with something that is super new … The Zombie Apocalypse. The whiteboard is filled with ideas on how to make this thing epic – think capture-the-flag + zombies and you’ll get the idea. Will it work? Will I (Josh) lose my job? Who knows, but no one will say we’re content with the same old summer activities. HA! If you need ideas, and didn’t read last week’s articles…shame on you. Now that you are shamed, go read those for a bunch of ideas.

Capture as many text numbers as you can.
Use the summer to expand your contact list. For us, it’s our texting group—we want this to grow significantly heading into fall. This will help you message a ton more students when you start promoting small groups or your fall kickoff teaching series. When a student signs up for an event, make one of the required fields their phone number and a check-box allowing you to text them. They can opt out on their phones at any time.

I think we’ve said this enough the past 2 weeks, but it’s because we don’t want you to miss it! Relationships are the point; don’t lose sight of that during summer. Whatever you plan is pretty much an excuse to have conversations and challenge students in their faith. Make the most of your summer activities!

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.