Social media – it reaches well, just about everyone. It can be a blessing and/or a curse. It can also be a very effective means of communication, when utilized correctly. We currently live during a time in the world where we have many options at our fingertips to be able to communicate with others. However, this vital concept of communication can go unharnessed.
As church youth group leaders, our role in relation to the youth we come in contact with is extremely important and delicate. We can have huge influences on today’s youth and we all hope for the influences to be positive. We want to make a difference in the young lives for the good, and utilizing social media is just one branch of doing so, other than leading the youth group meetings. Here are 5 tips to using social media effectively as church youth group leaders:
1) Communicate Events
One characteristic that a good youth group has is growth- not only spiritually but in reaching out to and possibly recruiting other members. When events and services, whether they are special events or regular services have details posted on social media, more people are apt to attend. Details such as time and location to each and every event are great reminders to the regular attendees. Such posts also allow for others such as parents to stay in the loop as to what schedule their child has. I am not talking about only posting once in the church’s description as to what day a week and time the youth group meeting is, but rather in addition posting every single week a few days in advance a reminder that there is youth group on say, Tuesday at 6pm (with the location).
Some social media programs such as Facebook have a wonderful feature where an event can be created. This allows for a great option to spread the word for special events that you are really trying to recruit people for. The reason is this feature allows for any person to invite others to come, with the simple click of a button. Many people could be recruited quickly as friends of friends invite others. An example of an event this would be a great option for is if you are holding a conference or maybe a fundraising event for the youth group.
2) Monitor Conversations
Once you have an account established on social media for your youth group it is important to monitor any interaction under that account. Whether it is a public or private page, make sure comments from others are appropriate and relevant. Inappropriate comments should be dealt with right away. Also, a great practice to have is to reply to any comments made. This lets people know that the site is being adequately administered, but also shows that conversation/comments are being heard and deemed as important. Negative or inappropriate comments are less likely to occur when readers know the site is being monitored frequently.
3) Respect Privacy
Many youth groups do such amazing activities that the leaders as well as others get excited and want to share photos of the activities via social media. Due to the fact that those children involved are minors, it is a good idea to make sure their parents have signed a photo consent document – okaying photos of their children to be taken and published on social media. This is important because some parents do not want photos of their children online. It is good practice to communicate with parents about their desires according to photos for safety reasons.
Also when referring to respecting the privacy of others regarding youth group and social media – it is a good idea to not post the first and last names of youth online. Another tip is that private prayer requests should not be publicized. These are just a couple more basic concepts to protect and respect the privacy of the youth group members.
4) Post Encouragement
Social media for youth groups doesn’t only have to serve as a means to announce services and event times, but it is a great avenue to minister to a large variety of people. Chances are that not just the youth in your youth group will be viewing your page if your social media page is made public. People of all ages and backgrounds could stumble upon your page during their internet browsing and what you post may really minister greatly to that individual. If you post short writings of encouragement, short sermons, or even encouraging images, such posts have the potential of influencing others in a positive manner.
5) Utilize More Than One Platform
Usually when I hear the term, “social media,” I automatically think of Facebook. Maybe that is because I am of the middle-aged generation who gravitates to Facebook more. It is important to realize that not everyone uses the same social media platform. As a church youth group leader, it is important to do some research to see what the majority of your audience uses. Do they use Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Linked In, Google Plus? Are you wanting to reach the parents of the youth as well to extend communication? If the youth gravitates towards Twitter, but their parents use Facebook, then it may be beneficial to use both social media platforms instead of just focusing on one. Communication, then, is optimized to the most effective way.
Your youth ministry does not have to be kept within the walls of the youth group building. Taking advantage of the social media platform to spread the good word can be a very beneficial technique. These platforms can allow you to post encouragement as well as serve for an effective communication tool. Spreading announcements of events and even short sermons helps to bring about good influence to today’s youth. It is important, however, to respect the privacy of youth in regards to posting photos. Up keeping and monitoring the social media page is another aspect of maintenance to effectively communicate via social media. When utilizing more than one platform more of an audience can be reached. When following these tips social media can be an awesome tool for church youth group leaders.
Lights UP North writes from deep inside the great Northern Woods in hopes of bringing inspiration, encouragement, and hope to others. Ministering to those who are suffering from eczema and allergies is another strong passion for Lights UP North.
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