Simply Youth Ministry has always been about saving youth workers’ time. I too love efficiency. I want my computer to run faster. I organize files like an archivist. I even plan my calendar down to the day and hour I’m going to fill up my car with gas. Well, not that last one, but I LOVE being efficient. And the same goes for when I want to get the word out on a youth ministry event.
There are so many different social media routes to do ministry on, and you can spend/waste a lot of hours just keeping up with facebook, twitter, and now Google +. So here’s my philosophy on the proper role of social networks in youth ministry, and how to use them efficiently.
Social Networking is supplemental.
What I mean is that I believe social networking can only accomplish so much. I can keep in touch with hundreds of students, but those relationships must have a “real life” component for meaningful discipleship to occur. In other words, you have to have face time with individual students! Social networking is a bonus to, not the foundation of, a relationship. Therefore I will use social networking for a limited number of tasks.
- sharing event info
- writing quick notes of encouragement to students and volunteers
- checking a student’s wall to gather info that will help me minister to them
- making fun of students by posting pictures of them with panty hose on their heads
I really only spend 10-15 minutes a day on facebook. I see it as being supplemental to all of the other relationship building I do throughout the week. Now, how do we make it efficient?
Let technology work for you!
When I first began using social networks I would waste so much time writing individual posts for a blog, facebook, twitter etc. To be an efficient social networker you have to learn how to link accounts. When you link accounts, any information you share on one network gets automatically copied and pasted to the linked account. I began doing this with twitter and facebook. I love the brevity of twitter (you have to be efficient with 140 characters) so I linked twitter to my facebook using the facebook twitter app. Now when I tweet it instantly posts to facebook. Pretty cool huh? But I didn’t stop there…
Our youth ministry also uses the mass text messaging service SimplyText (now Communicate) from Simply Youth Ministry. When you create a text message in SimplyText you have the option to link to your twitter account. This means that every time I send a mass text message close to 300 students who subscribe instantly receive the message on their phones, and the message goes to twitter. Because my twitter is linked to my facebook account my status is also instantly updated. Plus, Simply Text allows me to set up multiple texts and assigned them to be sent at different times and dates. In one 20 minute sitting I can set up 2-3 weeks’ worth of text messages and forget about it. I know that every day for the next month close to 300 students will get daily contact from me, not to mention the 1000 people who follow me on twitter and facebook. Doing a month of social networking in 20 minutes… now that’s efficient!
Jon grew up around Charlotte, NC. He graduated from The College at Southeastern in 2010 with a BA doubling majoring in The History of Ideas and Biblical Studies. In 2008 he married his wife Chelsea. They currently live just north of Charlotte where Jon serves as the College Pastor, and Youth Ministry Geek (not his real title) at Christ Community Church. He prefers Windows 7 to OSX, Android to iOS, and Walkmans to iPods.