Social Media in Youth Ministry

Greetings Youthworker Movement! It’s been a long time, but I am so excited to be back writing, a passion of mine. Since last writing here at the Youthworker Movement I have moved ministry settings and am now serving at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church. In my new setting of ministry, I have been reminded in this ministry setting, the vast influence that a certain model of communication has on our lives and the lives of the students in our Youth Ministries.

When was the last time you tweeted? Posted on Instagram? Sent a Snapchat? Since this morning the teenagers in your ministry have used one or all of these outlets multiple times, in fact, current research shows that:

92% of American teens go online daily, including 24% who go online ‘almost constantly.

Let the following infographic from Teen Safe: Protecting the Most Valuable Treasure explain further:

teensafe-socialteen

 

At the core of our calling as youth workers is communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Layman’s translation: We communicate. We communicate a lot!

We do Sunday School, Sunday Nights, Wednesday Nights, Bible Study, Mission Trip, Worship, and many other great things in our youth ministry context. In every one of those settings, we are communicating. We now live in a culture where communication is constant; it never stops which puts us in a predicament. How do we communicate the life worth living, life in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with everything else that is being communicated? The sobering fact is that every second there are around 6,000 tweets posted on Twitter.

6,000 per second! 

What many have tried and failed in doing was demonizing social media, and that is just not working. That failed very quickly, and more and more youth become more and more disinterested in church. So, we must come to terms with how we are going to effective use social media as a tool for communicating the gospel. I wanted today to give you two quick things that you can do right now to help you in this regard.

Get a Youth Ministry Instagram Account – If you don’t have one already, you need to set up an Instagram for your youth ministry. You can find the one that I manage at @heightstumin for the Student Ministry at Arlington Heights UMC. This is our major hub of information that we share with our students. We send all kinds of gifs for laughs (appropriate ones of course), encouragement pictures, promo graphics for retreats coming up, videos of worship, testimony videos of our students, and we are constantly flooding this account.

Why?

Because that is where they are all the time. You communicate to and with your students where they are and in the language that they are speaking.

Connect this Instagram account with Facebook and Twitter – There are a lot of social media options out there, and some are great and safe and others, not so much. So I would suggest you stick with the top 3. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Once that you have created an Instagram account for your youth ministry, connect that account to a youth ministry facebook page and a twitter account.

  • Download typorama, adobe spark, or the Bible app to create encouraging pictures to post on instagram. These apps enable you to choose a photo background and put text on top of the background. The Bible App with Youversion.com creates daily bible verse insta-ready for you to post. (other apps of interest are ultratext, wordswag, and I am sure many others. My preference however for my posting are typorama and adobe spark).

The Facebook Page is not really for students; it’s a P.R. move to show the parents and other people in the church what the youth ministry is doing. Some youth will check it, but most won’t because Facebook is where their parents and grandparents are. The Twitter, however, is another place youth congregate for the fast pace nature of sharing tweets.

After you have done that begin sharing all you can through Instagram to these other media outlets. Whenever your gatherings are during the week really post all you can to these accounts. The more you share, the more they will see, they more they will likely share and invite friends to join them and you in ministry.

social-media-resources-580x244

Final thing, I am teaching a Social Media Strategy Workshop at Spark Youth Ministry Conference in January and would love for you to come so that we can continue this conversation and learn and grow together in how we can use social media as a tool and not so much a hindrance. At this workshop, we will discuss in more specifics how you can setup your own social media strategy in your ministry setting. You can register for Spark Youth Ministry Conference by clicking

You can register for Spark Youth Ministry Conference by clicking here. We have lots of great workshops coming this year and you don’t want to miss this!

About Bradley Alexander

My name is Bradley Alexander, I serve as the Director of Youth and Media Ministries at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, TX. I am married to the love of my life, Rev. Amy Forsythe-Alexander, who serves as the Pastor of Discipleship at Acton United Methodist Church. I graduated from Texas Wesleyan University in 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Business Management. Currently I am working on receiving the United Methodist Church Youth Ministry Certification with the General Board of Higher Education. After receiving this I will continue my coursework at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas receiving a Masters in Youth Ministry. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to connect with you again in the future.

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