Technology: Avoiding Social Media Pitfalls in Youth Ministry
Bruce Blair / Cardiac Media / Cleveland, Tennessee / email@example.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.)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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