Technology: Avoiding Social Media Pitfalls in Youth Ministry

Five Practical Thoughts For Social Media

Bruce Blair / Cardiac Media / Cleveland, Tennessee /


(This is the next in our series of Feature Articles from Youth Leaders Only 102 – which has the theme of TECHNOLOGY: Doing Ministry in the 21st Century.)

The earliest form of social media was only in its beginning stages ten years ago – now, almost everyone you know has adopted it. We are in the midst of a technological revolution. Social media is in its Model T era if you equate it to the automobile industry. If we do not continue to intentionally engage this medium, the church will be the only one riding around on ten wooden spokes, while the Mustang of technology has been invented.

One misconception is that you have to compete with Social Media. Our view of social media as youth leaders shouldn’t be negative. Yes, inevitably, there will be bad influences on social media, it happens, but if you choose to stay away from it for this reason you lose the opportunity to reach your students.

Anyone who works with students knows how difficult keeping their attention is. With so many things vying for them, no wonder they have trouble staying focused. . So, think outside the box—instead of exhausting yourself (and your budget) competing for your students’ attention, be the distraction. Students might seem to be ignoring you, but, whether you realize it or not, students ARE listening. Yes, church happens on Sundays and Wednesdays; however, ministry continues throughout the week. The way students communicate today involves more than simply speaking, listening face-to-face, or sitting in a church service. You might label this generation as media-driven, but in reality it isn’t media to them –it’s just part of life.

With that in mind, here are five practical thoughts for social media.

  1. If you are not on social media, you’re not speaking this generation’s language. Social media is not the only important aspect of youth ministry, but it should be a priority. Students who see you on social media believe you can relate to them. Jesus was/is all about building relationships. If you are having trouble connecting with students or getting them to come to church, try social media. Retweet their posts, like their pictures, and let them know you are present and listening. Often, they will gradually open up, grow to trust you, value your words, and engage face-to-face. Also, your students are more likely to filter what they post if they know you are watching. This is a great way to provide accountability.
  2. Don’t do it alone! Managing one social media platform effectively, not to mention multiple platforms, is difficult. Don’t be the only administrator on your accounts. Student leaders and other adult youth leaders can be your best co-laborers in the social media ministry, but be selective about whom you give account access. Appoint someone trustworthy and mature to help run your accounts.
  3. Protect your brand. Everything you post on social media represents the Lord, your church, and you. Use wisdom and discretion when…

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High School Students’ Reactions/Thoughts

Anna Scally / Cornerstone Media, Inc. / Healdsburg, California /

Anna Scally has lead youth ministry seminars on mainstream music for over thirty years in Catholic parishes all over the country. She is a longtime friend and co-laborer with us at interlínc. We often say that “she has forgotten more about mainstream music than most of us have ever known.” We asked her to give her thoughts on Prince’s impact on high school kids over the years. She even took time to speak with some students yesterday and include their thoughts. Check out more from Anna’s ministry at Cornerstone Media.


“You saw it in his eyes.” This came from Owen Husney, the agent who signed Prince for his first album contract. When he was brought the demo he asked Chris Moon what the name of the band was. He said, “This is one person, an 18-year-old who is playing every instrument.” Husney knew at that moment he had never met anyone with this kind of brilliance. During an interview this morning he was obviously deeply saddened and in shock. He shared that there are so many songs never released, also commenting about the work that Prince left for all of us is ready to be discovered.

Born on June 7, 1958 to musical parents, as early as age seven he was a self-taught pianist, then guitar, followed by drums. He lived, ate, and breathed music.

Like many teens, he had his own sources of inspiration. (This would be a great question to ask the young people you work with.) Certainly, Stevie Wonder was one of his key inspirations because he had a great connection to the spirit. Prince thought that his own music was from the heart; he had a gift and it needed to be guided.

What is so wonderful to me personally is that he is/was a towering figure in global culture, and his music has been the soundtrack for untold numbers of people. I personally believe this is why so many people of different ages identify with his songs. Not only being a seven-time Grammy winner, an Oscar winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and claims to have sold over 100 million records, he wanted to have his music have an impact on society. Last year he performed an original song at the Rally for Peace in Baltimore – “Baltimore” for Freddy Gray, the young man killed by police.

This morning I had the honor of talking with several teens around the country (the ones I could connect with – after all, it is a school day). I asked them how or if he affected their life, and if they happened to have a favorite song. Great responses! Some were very expected. Tasha from Northern California chose “Let’s Go Crazy.” “I’m a senior in high school this year and this is what I feel like.” Another teen, Josh from Atlanta, did not really want to go into details, but he said it would have to be “Controversy.” If one song could sum up his life right now, this would be it. My favorite and most touching response might be from 15-year-old Josh from Denver. He spoke in a low voice and said, “Okay, this may sound weird, but it would be ‘When Doves Cry.’ I never even thought about doves crying – but I bet there are lots of them in the heavens right now!” Wow, that hit the heart!

Many spoke of the fact he seemed fearless, brave, driven, crossed many barriers, and not afraid of what others thought of him.

I’m sure many people today have different thoughts and feelings about the loss of his life. A I listened today and did a little searching around, I discovered many common threads that could connect with our ministry. He said that along with himself, teens need more God in their lives. He spent much time talking with band members about his relationship with God and opportunities to make a difference.

The final image that Lisa Cox, a CNN reporter, had after being at the final concert/performance in Atlanta last week was of him and the piano on stage, giving his all, talking to the audience and standing strong.

I pray to live this way through my life as well – maybe minus the piano, if you know me.

Technology: Evolution of the Youth Room

Does the experience shape the room, or does the room shape the experience?

041416_Youth-RoomsMandy Kyes / RPM Youth / Galt, California / Mandykyes@Hotmail.Com

(This is the next in our series of Feature Articles from Youth Leaders Only 102 – which has the theme of TECHNOLOGY: Doing Ministry in the 21st Century.)

It was an open room with a boom box, a podium, and metal folding chairs that would always sting a little if you wore shorts. There wasn’t a projector, or pool table, but somehow we were always able to have a great time. What was this magical space that seemed to have very little but everything at the same time? It was my youth room growing up. That was years ago when MTV actually played music videos. But times have changed, and so have our youth rooms. What makes a youth room “click” with students? Does the room shape the experience, or does the experience shape the room? Perhaps it’s both.

One of the biggest lessons I like to share with youth is that we don’t have to “get better” before we meet Jesus. The thing about Jesus is that we don’t have to meet Him “half way.” Rather, He meets us where we are, faults and all. Taking that concept to heart, it seems as if many of our youth rooms are made to do the same. Today’s youth are driven by technology. To meet students where they are, we oftentimes tweak little things over the years that add up over time. We fill youth rooms with video games systems, loud music, televisions — and in one youth room I’ve visited, a “charging station” where youth can charge their phones while still checking their Instagram and Snapchat. (I’m sure there’s a hashtag for that!)

Youth rooms have shifted to become more of a place of…


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Technology: Okay, you have an iPad. Now what?

How I use my iPad to be more effective in youth ministry

Tom Hammel / SoCal Network Assemblies of God / Irvine, California /


If you are anything like me, you love technology! But, figuring out how to make it work beyond watching Netflix and playing Candy Crush can sometimes be a bit perplexing. So, my mission is to figure out how to make technology serve me! Here are just a few of the ways I use my iPad to help streamline and hopefully be more effective in youth ministry

Keep Your Student Database Up To The Minute

I have found an amazing tool called MinHub Youth App. There are so many cool features that are useful, but a few of my favorites are:

  • Cost – There are no ongoing subscription fees, (which is important for the youth ministry budget!)
  • Fun – While a bit of time is needed for the initial set up, I love the “selfie” check-in process for students. The moment something is fun for kids to do they will be more consistent in doing it.
  • Messaging – You can send something out to your whole database, or just to your leaders, or however you want to group your people.

I know that there are other tools out there, but this is a simple and economical one that sync’s to Dropbox so you can have multiple devices running the same database.

Write And Deliver Your Talk From Your iPad, Complete With Slideshow

This is a huge part of what we do as youth pastors, and there are lots of options for displaying your presentations with Keynote, PowerPoint, or ProPresenter.

Using JUST your iPad and the built-in Pages app, you can build an efficient and simple collection of sermon notes. Start with the page formatting. I like to set the margins to 0.12” on both sides and 0.49” for the top and bottom – which fills the entire page with the notes. Then, use a large font size (I use 23) and build your sermon with color coding for Scriptures, quotes, comments, announcements, and what your audience will see on the screens. Then export that document as a PDF into iBooks so that when your are presenting, you have a simple page-by-page view. Finally, iBooks keeps an archive on my bookshelf in case I need to, um… be ready in season and out!

And Finally, Social Media

Even in a world full of communication and connection, announcements still can’t seem to make it home! Social Media, with all of its trappings, can be…

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Technology: Life in the Cloud

Technology: Doing Youth Ministry in the 21st Century

Aaron Tucker / First Baptist Church / Philadelphia, Mississippi /

iCloud-400x400(Special Note: This article was written entirely in the cloud. If I can do it, then you can too! The following ideas are generalized. I am no expert. If you need help setting up your device or computer with some function or program, then Google your specific question to find a specific answer. I hope you find something here that makes your life better, and makes your ministry more effective. I believe in you!)

Youth leaders, you know how it goes! Someone asks you (sometimes with the best of intentions), “What do you DO all day?” You try to think about how you could possibly explain the concept of how UN-routine your average day can be, but your answer to their question comes up short to accurately describe the SPEED with which you fly through life — loving God, loving your family, and trying your best to love other people, both in the church and outside of it. I know that you already use technology. For crying out loud, we are youth workers, and this is the year 2016! However, technology is only as good as…

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RISEN – A Youth Pastor’s Review

“Truly captivating” “I loved it from beginning to end”

021016-Risen-HeaderRated PG-13 for Biblical violence including some disturbing images.
Starring Joseph Fiennes, Peter Firth and Cliff Curtis,
Directed by Kevin Reynolds

As a Christian, I loved how this film was an exciting new look at the crucifixion and the events following the resurrection.

Roman military tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) remains set in his ways after serving 25 years in the army. He arrives at a crossroad when he’s tasked to investigate the mystery of what happened to Jesus (Cliff Curtis) following the Crucifixion. Accompanied by trusted aide Lucius (Tom Felton), his quest to disprove rumors of a risen Messiah makes him question his own beliefs and spirituality. As his journey takes him to places never dreamed of, Clavius discovers the truth that he’s been seeking.

Director and co-writer Kevin Reynolds, along with screenwriter Paul Aiello, present the events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of a true skeptic. In this case, that would be a Roman tribune named Clavius, portrayed by Joseph Fiennes.

And Fiennes is spectacular. His plays a very strong character who is wrestling with life’s biggest question. In fact, at one point he simply, yet profoundly states that he is wagering his eternity. I loved the honesty and authenticity of the struggle.

We see him oversee the crucifixion of Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus), and the two thieves. Speaking of Cliff Curtis, he is an olive-skinned actor who just might be what Jesus really looked like. He and Fiennes are so good together. In fact, they avoided any contact on set except for when they were filming scenes together—the result is very convincing on-screen chemistry. And I have to say that I absolutely loved Paco Manzanedo’s portrayal of the centurion who acknowledges that there was something different about “this man.” It is a very small role, but he nailed it.

Finally, the Apostles are very likeable. We see them as flawed, broken, scared men who are trying their best to be devoted followers of Jesus. We get to see them struggling with doubt and worried about the future. We see them laughing and crying—and I laughed and cried with them.

Let’s be honest, RISEN could have been cheesy and/or overly dramatic. But it is truly captivating and I loved it from beginning to end.


The battle and crucifixion scenes are pretty intense, but should be fine for most teenagers. This really could be an interesting film to watch as a youth group. Make sure you check out our free resources for this film here:


Should kids see it?

Review By Todd Pearage, Team interlinc WriteGroup member,


February 12, 2016
Rated R: strong violence, language throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein and Brianna Hildebrand
Directed by Tim Miller


Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

As a huge fan of the superhero films, I can’t decide if I’m angry or saddened by what I just watched. I think it’s both. Deadpool is a Rated R film that is extremely violent and jam-packed of sex, nudity and profanity. And it is in a genre that is destroying box offices everywhere. Just look at these numbers—Marvel’s The Avengers has made over $600 million, Iron Man, Captain American, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy are all in the $200 million neighborhood. People – a lot of people are going to go see Deadpool. To make matters worse, I sat next to a father who brought his two sons (best guess they were 8 and 5) to the 10:00pm showing. Yes he brought an 8 and 5 year old to a R-rated movie and 10 o’clock at night! UGH!!

Get all our Movie Resource Youthworkers Guides when you join YLO

So let’s take a minute and break it all down. There is no doubt that the comic book character Deadpool is a fan favorite. And with his super sarcastic comebacks and superhuman skills, who wouldn’t love him?! Some of you might remember him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Although he is nearly unrecognizable, it was his first appearance on film. Film makers decided to give him laser eyes and swords that came out of his arms, which caused most fans to scratch their heads, but when they sewed his mouth shut, fans lost their minds! Ever since that debacle, fans (myself included), casual movie goers and even Ryan Reynolds have been begging for a legitimate Deadpool movie.

Be careful what you wish for.

I remember seeing the now infamous “test footage” that most people believe Reynolds leaked online. It was more brutal than other Marvel films like Iron Man or The Avengers. It was darker and I wondered how this was all going to unfold. The story goes that this test footage was shopped around and rejected for years, but once it broke the internet, it was greenlit in less than 24 hours.

Then the announcement came that it would have an R rating and they were still pushing the envelope. Allow me to confirm your worst fears. They did push the envelope. They made a Marvel superhero movie that kids will be begging to see…but they should NOT see.

Deadpool is extremely violent and graphic. This “hero” is not trying to save the day or protect the innocent, he’s trying to kill the “bad guys” in the most gruesome ways possible. Most superheroes have a “no kill” policy, and while that cannot always be the case, Deadpool seems to have a “no survivor” policy. And the deaths are graphic, gory and often disturbing.

Then there is the profanity. Most people know that Deadpool is known as The Merc with a Mouth. And its one of the reason most fans love him. He is witty, sarcastic and pretty funny. That being said, I was shocked that F-word was in almost every film. And it’s just not the F-word, there are explicit sexual references, crude jokes and a long list of other profanities.

But what shocked me the most was the amount of sex and nudity in the film. The film includes full-frontal male and female nudity and an extended sex scene that lasts several minutes. These scenes evoked some laughter from the audience, but there was nothing funny about it. There is also a scene in a strip club that seems to go on forever.

Are there any redeeming qualities to the film? Yes there are a few. Colossus is the voice of reason. He tries to convince Deadpool to leave his offensive ways behind and join the X-men. He’s reasonable, self-controlled and even rebukes him for this use of profanity. But Deadpool laughs him off and mocks him.

There is one small glimmer of decency in Wade Wilson aka Deadpool. When he talks about his battle with cancer, he says, that it’s not what the cancer does to you, it’s what it does to those you love. And it is that selfless acts that leads him down the road to becoming Deadpool.

As the credits rolled I sat in my seat and wished Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller had made a PG-13 superhero movie that pushed the envelope…not an R-rated movie that pushed the envelope way too far.

NO—and trust me, they are going to want to see it!

There are several sex scenes, both male and female full frontal nudity and a lot of sexual references. The violence is extremely graphic and there are A LOT of F-bombs.

How would you describe the relationship between Deadpool and Colossus?

Why do you think they don’t get along?

Do you have friends like Deadpool who always seem to do the wrong thing?

Read Hebrews 10:24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

How can we motivate our friends to do good?

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Bruno @ the SuperBowl

What do YOU know about him?


Over 110 million watched Bruno Mars on the Pepsi SuperBowl HalfTime Show. All the kids in your group know his songs—including his participation with Mark Ronson on the hit song “Uptown Funk.” What do YOU know about Bruno? Who is he? What are his messages? What does a youthworker need2know?

“Peter Hernandez was born in Hawaii into a musical family. After spending his childhood performing in the family band and impersonating Elvis Presley, Hernandez moved to LA at 17 years old and adopted his stage name, Bruno Mars. Though he always wanted to be a performer, he began his music career by writing and producing songs for other artists while he developed his own craft…”

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Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Downloads, Streaming

And The Beat Goes On!

020316_MusicchartOver the 30 years of interlinc and Youth Leaders Only, we’ve seen it all. This email from one of our youth leader members is  “where it’s at” for kids, music, and youth ministry. We are bringing you YLO 2.0 digital and streaming – so you can be sure you are on top things!

“I wanted to let you know that I have used interlinc in the past at different churches I have served at and enjoyed it from about 2008-2012. Around 2013-current as I have asked questions of the kids they are just not willing to engage music through CD format. A majority of our kids have chosen the free route or even pay to have commercial-less versions of quite a few apps. Apple Music appears to be used by most students and the others use Spotify.

I wish many would take advantage but they don’t. We had about 200 CDs out for the students to grab but not one was taken for about two years, even when they were listed as free to keep. Most complained that they don’t own a CD player.”


Carrying Music In Paper Cups


Guest post by Mark Pittman

I like to think of myself as a fairly forward thinking person — especially concerning technology.  I seek out new gadgets and new ways to do things and revel a bit in my own latest-and-greatest superiority. But I have to admit, this playful puppy turned into an old dog when my daughter showed me how my thinking was still stuck in the 90′s.

New Tunes
Being an interlinc member, there is always a fresh stack of CDs on my desk. My daughter, armed with this knowledge and her love for Family Force 5, has an eagle-eye for the arrival of a new Youth Leaders Only box. She is rewarded for her watchfulness (how can I resist those big eyes and her smiling face asking me if she can have the latest CD from her favorite group?!) She is very polite and thoughtful, but the urgency of wanting to hear the new music recently made her ask “in motion” — disc already in hand, on the way to her computer and speakers in her room (knowing I would, of course, say yes). It took just a few seconds for me to hear the song “Chainsaw” (at full volume) from her room. I smiled, happy again to help get some great music into her hands, head, and heart.

About a week later, the kids and I were having a dad-induced clean-the-house session. My daughter was working downstairs folding laundry, so I took it upon myself to grab the upstairs trash. As I reached to pick up the can from her room, I gasped, and then bellowed out a loaded-lungs-yell that brought her bounding up the stairs. “Yeah, Dad?” she said, thinking I had another cleaning chore to add to her list. All I could do was point to the Family Force 5 CD in her trash can, so shiny in the midst of her other trash. “What is this doing in here?!” was all I could muster, still frozen in disbelief. How could my daughter throw this disk away? My daughter cocked her head, trying to process why I was so upset. Still not fully grasping the gravity of the situation, she simply said, “Um, Dad … I already uploaded it to my computer.”

That’s when it hit me.  To her, the bright, shiny disc was simply a paper cup—a vessel to carry music from the dispenser to her device. Once that was done, she didn’t see a need to keep it. I had to adjust my thinking.

Time to Clear the Shelves
For many of us who grew up displaying our music collection for all to see and admire, CDs are to be encased in notebooks or lined up on bookshelves for people to see. But in that split second, my daughter helped me make a complete shift in how I view CDs.

What’s YOUR “Paper Cup”?
Music that resides in our earbuds won’t do our students any good. Since CDs are now a thing of the past, we need to find a new “Paper Cup” to get music into our students’ ears. I know that interlinc’s working on developing that new delivery method. When the music is streamed to your students’ earbuds, it will flow, like water, into their heads and hearts.