A while back, I posted an article listing the 10 ways I have attempted to communicate with students and parents about what we were doing in our student ministry. As we talk about parent involvement and how we keep them in the loop, I thought I'd share a few of those ideas here with you. Let me know what you think?
In the past I have used the following ideas.
1. Bulletin Inserts
On the last Sunday of each month, I provided a printed calendar insert as part of the worship bulletin. This calendar included dates, times, and locations for upcoming gatherings, activities, or events for both the Middle School and High School ministries. In addition to the monthly calendar, event inserts will appear at least 2 weeks prior to the event date. These inserts provide the basic information of time, locations, and cost, along with a short summary of the event.
2. Big Screen Announcements
If your church uses a projector and screen for announcements and worship, be sure to get you ministry information on the big worship screens! I tried each week to have at least one slide with information on upcoming youth ministry opportunities. Aside from promoting your upcoming events, this is a great way to keep your ministry in front of the entire congregation.
3. Facebook and Other Social Media
Social Media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, are still popular avenues for communication. However, the trends are beginning to fluxuate as more and more adult are signing on to Facebook while more and more students are leaving Facebook for Twitter and Instagram. If you have plans to use social media as a way of connecting and communicating, take a couple of weeks to do a little research to find out who uses what. Once you know who is where, you can tailor your content appropriately. The only other caution I would give is to be sure you investigate the media outlet before you commit to using it. Like anything else on cyberspace, there is always the potential for danger. Understand how the applications work, how to properly safeguard them, and have a plan for how you will manage the content and feedback.
4. The Youth Ministry Website
I started my first website for a youth group back in 2000. It was all html coded. it was rough on the edges, but it worked. Today, websites are still a valuable tool for dispersing infomation to your group. The possibilties of what you can do with a website still amazing me. But I have seen a shift in how youth ministry sites or pages are being used. Early on, they were the hub of current materials and information and included things like calendars, pictures, videos, leader materials, parental forms, and mission statements. Today, I see more and more youth ministry page become static pages with an introduction of the group and an invite to come and visit. Nothing wrong with that. But if you intend on having a website, create a plan and purpose for what your site will be and how you will use it. With todays availibility of social media apps, I don't think too many students are check out websites anymore. So think about whther or not you want to invest the time and resources into a site. You might just want to have a simple page added to your church sites which directs students to a different venue that your group uses.
5. The Weekly Podcast or Vlog
When I originally released this article, weekly podcasts and/vlogs were the latest thing. Youth workers were posting all sorts of creative videos and pocasts with everything from devotional thoughts to weekly announcements and reminds. I think these too and becoming part of internet history. Today, you might have better luck with current media options that allow you to post quick videos such Instagram or Vine. On both of these apps, you are given about 15 seconds to say what you need to say.
6. Fliers, Posters, Brochures
Not everyone runs to the internet for the latest youth ministry news. There are those who still find the simplicity of the pen and paper to be the best way of communicating. Thus, fliers, posters, and brochures will never fall out of style. Just about every thing I do, or have done in student ministry, comes with a flier, poster, or brochure. Like the bulletin insert, these printed promotional
materials provide the date, time, location, cost, and summary of the event. Leave a stack on the churches welcome table, hang them around the building, decorate your youth room with them!
7. The Evolution of Texting
Texting has evolved to an artform of communication. It remains as one of the primary ways students communicate to each other. In the last couple of years organizations such as Simply Youth Ministry (Group) and Youth Specialtites, have launch services where you can create text directories and blitz both your student and your parent population with text messages, up dates, news, and reminders. Knowing how much my own kids and my students text, if you have the resources for such service, you might want to take advantage of them. If not, there are still ways of creating a texting chain that won't cost you or your budget a thing. But that's another blog.
8. Smail Mail
When an activity or event is announced, I have always created a flier that can be mailed to the home of each student on our mailing list. Usually addressed to the student, I try to encourage parents to be sure that you read the contents of the mailing before the mail is lost in a bedroom closet. When communication is intended for the parents, address the labels as, “To The Parents Of...” This indicates that there is important information within the mailing and hopefully they read the paperwork.
9. The Weekly Email
Not as popular as it was a couple of years ago, the email newsletter can still be a helpful way of communicating with parents. it takes a little bit of time to put together, but if it is helpful to parents, it might be worth your time.
10 . The Phone Call
With all the other forms of communication, I believe the best is still the phone call. When all else fails, you know you can communicate well by placing a quick phone call. But that goes both ways. Create a policy where parents know how and when to get a hold of you. Be available to answer questions. And be sure to return messages.
However you choose to communicate, take the time to get to your the parents you serve and find out what works best for your particular ministry. What might work for the guy at the church down the street might not work at your church, so get to know your parents. Once you have determined how you will communicate, be as consistant as possible. And with that in mind, don't bite off more than you can chew. Start simply and let the needs of the ministry drive you in how you develop additional outlets for info!
It's Monday morning. Perhaps like me, you might be walking into a disaster of an office. Boxes, sports equipment, stacks of files, spare clothing, a sleeping bag, and a pancake griddle, are just a few of the item taking up space. Why? Because I just survived a weekend of ministry. In fact, I'm in the middle of 3 big ministry weekends.
Two weekends ago we held our annual 30 Hour Famine! This past weekend our Friday night student outreach. This coming weekend, a student led worship of Friday and Youth Sunday on Sunday. During clean up, my office became the dumping-ground for all things famine/outreach/youth Sunday related. Add in three full weeks of teaching, assisting with worship, worship set up, and after school activities. That's a lot to cram into three weeks but, this is youth ministry.
Unfortunately, during busy seasons like this, the office space suffers the most. With each activity comes it's own pile of items that need to be cared for. Usually, these items find their way into our offices. But a messy office isn't always good. Sure, a little clutter isn't horrible, but if it effects your work, then something needs to happen. Sure, you could go to Starbucks for a couple of hours, but that only delays the inevitable. At some point, you will have to clean your office.
For me a clean office provides me with a small sense of professionalism. I feel good when my office is neat, especially when the church family stop by to say hi or talk. A clean office also helps with my creative processing. And I feel better about myself and the work I do knowing that my space is neat and tidy.
Now I'm not advocating for the deep clean, although you should do that a couple times a year, but you should try to straighten up and put things away." Taking the time to care for your work space is a great habit that will help you stay organized and more efficient.
What does your office look like? Do you find keeping a neat office helps you do your job a little better?
Or is your office simply the storage room for all things youth ministry related?
I'd love to hear what you think. Share your comments, thoughts, and idea!
*The following is a repost of a blog written by Jay Higham. This repost is part a big move that we are making from our old blog which is no longer in us, to the new blog here on our new host. This post has been updated and new affiliate links added. Original posted on 3.19.2012.
Tip: Read a book that challenges you to grow.
As a student, I hated reading. In fact, I don't think I ever read any of the books I was supposed to. But now, I really enjoy a good book. In fact, I would say I read quite a bit; far more than I used to read.
As a youth worker, we should be constantly striving to grow. To assume that we no longer need to be growing is to shorten our life in ministry. And part of us growing is in finding books that stretch and challenge us. We need to be actively reading and learning how to be the pastors that God calls us to be.
Taking time to read books that challenge us to think outside our boxes is crucial to our own growth and development. This might be a book by an author that you don't see eye to eye with. Maybe it's a topic that, theologically, you disagree with. Perhaps it's a text book such as; a book on church history, or systematic theology, or religions and ethics. Look for books that you know will be hard reads. These are the books that will make you think, question and work through the content. Learning how to wrestle a bit in what you're learning will stretch you and you will learn.
Don't be content with what you know, or even what you think you know. Don't read just the titles and the authors that you like and agree with. Be a learner. Stretch yourself. Challenge yourself. READ!
*The following is a repost of a blog written by Jay Higham. This repost is part a big move that we are making from our old blog which is no longer in us, to the new blog here on our new host. This post has been updated and new affiliate links added. Original posted on 8.27.2011.