The church seems to have this unspoken war on cell phones within the church walls. We always ask people to silence them, and most youth groups I know state that teenagers need to completely turn them off or leave them at home. But I want to actually push back on this and state that teenagers should leave their cell phones on at youth groups.
Below, we have a list of great ideas that would require teenagers to have their cell phones not only on, but out and used for youth group games and activities. Before we get to that, what is it that drives our need to turn off cell phones?
You could give the shallow “it’ll distract them from the service” excuse, but that treats teenagers as kids. Didn’t you just say that you expect them to share the Gospel as adults would? That you want to empower them to make huge decisions in youth group, or push for the youth group to be taken seriously by the congregation as a big part of the church body? Maybe we should stop treating them like kids too.
Let’s take a quick self-assessment while we are in the pulpit. Do we need to have eyes on us at all times, and that’s why we put away the cell phones? Are we ignorant to the community of people currently not attending church that may be reached via phone? Do we know how powerful images are of youth group that probably will only come from these teenagers’ cell phones? Can’t we let teenagers use phones to follow along in the Bible, take notes, and even go further with daily devotionals?
Tweet To Play
So many teenagers have smartphones that can connect to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts. Have one of your fun nights require that a teenager send out a photo tweet, Facebook image with friends and the ministry tagged, or an Instagram photo and using a hashtag or specific Facebook page wall to volunteer to join a game. You can then randomly select a couple of students to play any game, even an Instagram game we shared before.
Evangelize In The Youth Room
Maybe the best communication teenagers could do is post a youth ministry sermon quote, Bible verse, or some other shareable post while at youth group on Sunday or Wednesday night. If you go to camp in the summer, have students send out an invite right before the message to ask people to join them and reach an audience that is not even in your church. Can you imagine the possibilities of engaging with a whole community of non-church goers?
YouVersion has given churches the ability to come up with their own Reading Plans for devotionals. On top of that, you can now take notes via mobile devices. If you put together a 9 month curriculum and parallel it with 294 days of devotionals that the teenagers can read, you’ll go deeper than your ministry has ever gone before.
Phones have a possiblity of distraction, but they have as much of a possibility to communicate to a huge audience you aren’t reaching. What other ways have you seen cell phones be utilized well in youth group?
Jeremy Smith is a Christian first, husband and father next, and then a blogger, writer, and social media realist. He is currently working at Youth for Christ/USA as the Social Media Specialist and attending Denver Seminary for his Master's of Counseling in Mental Health. His bachelors degree is in Computer Engineering and Master's in Family Ministry. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for ten years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens.