A common problem I often hear from congregations regarding youth ministry is that it’s disjointed from the other ministries in the church. People generally feel disconnected from the youth ministry mainly because they don’t know what’s happening.
Good communication from the youth ministry does several things. First, it let’s the congregation know what’s happening. Second, it let’s parents and grandparents prepare for upcoming events before they happen. Third, it reports on how the event went and what actually happened. Fourth, good communication keeps the ministry at the forefront of people’s minds. When they think about the church, they should be thinking about the youth ministry.
I think creating a communication plan is key. I am going to offer up a communication plan that can be easily tweaked for most mainline congregations.
1. Announce youth ministry “stuff” in church regularly. By regularly I mean more often than not, when you don’t make an announcement it should feel as if something is missing from the announcement times–this will usually happen when you are away on youth ministry events. People should be expecting to hear from the youth minister almost every week about what is happening in the youth ministry. These verbal announcements can be events, lesson plans, game highlights, whatever you can think of-just announce it. Get people to remember weekly that the church has a youth ministry.
Announcements in church should be:
- with joy
You want to make sure you have given people an accurate reflection of the ministry you are tending to.
2. Print announcements weekly in the bulletin. There are three main things you should print in bulletins.
- Last week’s youth ministry highlights. Let people know what you did.
- This weeks schedule of youth ministry activities. This should include a teaser of games/lessons.
- Upcoming events should be printed in the bulletin at least 3 months in advance. If it is a very large event 6 months in advance.
The format of the announcement should change on a monthly basis. If it is formatted in the same way every week people with think it is the same old information and stop reading it. These announcements should be put on the youth ministry bulletin board.
3. Put an article in the church’s newsletter. Whether your church has a monthly, quarterly, or annual newsletter, youth ministry happenings should be prominent. There are some people who are only loosely associated with the church that will miss the verbal and bulletin announcements and only read the newsletter. This article should be placed on the youth ministry bulletin board.
4. Website. The youth page on the website should be THE place to go for families when they want information about the youth ministry. The website should include an event calendar that is always up to date, the necessary forms for all events (if you don’t know google forms, get to know it), and resources for youth in their Christian journey (this can be links).
5. Facebook. Your church should have a Facebook Page and it should be updated at least twice a week. The youth ministry should use that page to set up events, distribute information, and highlight past activities. You want it to be on the church’s page so that everyone can see it, not just a youth ministry Facebook page.
6. Twitter. There are some churches where there are a lot of people who use twitter and some where no-one uses it. If you link your Churches twitter handle to your Facebook page then you can skip a step of updating Facebook. Also, put a twitter feed in the sidebar of your youth ministry webpage.
7. Google Voice. Lastly, get to know Google voice. This service is awesome. You can update the greeting on the voicemail from your computer. This provides a handy number for the youth ministry. It let’s parents hear about upcoming events and gives them the ability to leave you a voice message. You can also set it up to forward to your cell phone, while retaining the youth ministry’s voicemail. You can even set it up to transcribe voicemails and email you the text. Additionally, this service also let’s you text mobile phones, which is necessary for communicating with today’s youth.
This is how I have learned to actively keep the whole congregation in the know.
Despite all of this work, you will still have people tell you that they don’t know what’s happening in youth ministry. But if you do all of the above, then you know that the fault is not your own. Some people just don’t pay attention.
Pastors: How do you keep your congregation in the loop with all things youth ministry?
Congregation members: How do you like to get information about youth ministry?