Julie Hagen and I recently led a workshop for the Koinonia Festival of Workshops about Youth Ministry in a Digital Age. We put together ideas for using social media before you meet, when you meet, and after you meet to evaluate. The overarching ideas we brought — know your community, who will be looking to connect and who will help you do these things; and set realistic goals. Here are those ideas:
Before you Meet:
- Use sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out and connect with youth.
- Remind them of meeting times or give them encouraging words by texting them. Sites like Txtsignal can help you send out a text to a large group from your computer.
- Help them get prepared for a meeting with tools like blogs. You can use a blog to keep kids, parents, and other interested people connected with a particular project or trip. (Here’s an example of a blog I made with the group that went to the National Youth Gathering in 2009.)
- Upload a video to YouTube that can help them prepare for the coming week’s lesson. Check out this example from Advent:
When You Meet:
- Use music. Center a devotion around a song. Use music in the background of your meeting or gathering time. Ask youth to take turns choosing music and give them ownership over the situation.
- Use Movies. Use movie clips or full length movies. Websites like Wing Clips or Spirituality and Practice can give you resources to get started.
- You could also center a lesson around making a video — Ask a set of questions and record the answers. Here’s an example from Our Saviour of a video that we filmed during a youth meeting:
- During meetings they can formulate the content for blog posts or tweets.
After you meet — Evaluate:
- Facebook will show you “Insights” that can show you how many times people view your photos or see your status messages. This can help you quickly recognize what people look at more when they visit your page; what is effective, what is not.
- Blogs and websites can tell you similar things — how many people came and what people looked at. They often can go into more depth of telling you what people are searching for on your site, helping you to develop content that is relevant and useful.
- Make sure you take time to evaluate on a regular basis and with other people — talk honestly about what works and what doesn’t and where you want this ministry to go.
We were both glad to be able to present these ideas to a group at the Festival. If you have questions, feel free to email Julie, email myself, or leave a comment on this post — Share with us your experiences and ideas using social media in ministry.