Yesterday, Jeremy Smith wrote a great post about Everything Your Youth Ministry website needs, and we decided to turn it into a bit of a series on how to create a great website for your Youth Ministry.
Later in this series, we will talk about the best platform for hosting your Youth Ministry website, but today, not even necessarily as part of the series, I wanted to talk about a recent trend among Students – Tumbling.
Tumblr was launched in 2007, but it really wasn’t until recent months that its popularity fully took off, and now Teens seem to be one of the biggest demographics using the site. Sure, teens use the internet a lot, and there are a number of sites they frequent on a daily basis. But it wasn’t until recently when I started hearing a majority of students in our youth group start saying “I hardly ever use Facebook, I’m only on Tumblr most days.”
It wasn’t just one student, but a majority of them. I’ve been amazed as I started looking into it more and more, our students, at least, do prefer Tumblr far more than Facebook. But a key piece is that none of them plan on closing their Facebook accounts. As one student put it
“Facebook will always be necessary, but its where I go to get information. Tumblr is where I get to be me and explore myself and my friends.”
So what does this mean for Youth Ministry?
First off, Tumblr isn’t just for teens. It’s not like adults don’t tumble or anything like that, so if you join Tumblr, your students shouldn’t think your weird. At the same time, don’t join tumblr just for the sake of Checking in on your students. The teens I talked to really made it clear they get to express themselves on Tumblr in a way they don’t get to on Facebook or anywhere else. The info they share on there is very valuable to them, and something they cherish. Don’t abuse that fact. Don’t be the Youth Pastor that starts calling them out on any little thing they post, because many students are extremely vulnerable with what they post. (Im not talking about stuff that could be dangerous, but pick your battles).
Secondly, get a presence for your Student Ministry on Tumblr. Its super easy to join, and super easy to tumble. But you want to make it even better? You don’t ever have to tumble. Most likely, any number of your students would jump at the opportunity to make a tumblr for your Youth Ministry and run the site for you. As well get into later in the Youth Ministry Website series, keep tabs on whats being posted and in the loop, but Ultimately, give ownership to the student. They will do a better job than you will, no matter how tech savvy you may be.
Third, I would say it calls into question our communication methods. Somewhat similar to the previous two points, Tumblr is where most of our students are at, at least in my Ministry. But for the past few years, it seems the big mantra in Youth Ministry Communication has been along the lines of “Facebook Facebook Facebook.” If you only rely on Facebook to communicate things in your Youth ministry, first off thats dumb, but mostly, your missing your audience. I know this seems weird compared to what we have been doing the last few years, but its true. The way teens use Facebook is changing, and has been for a while. Where as a few years ago it was “Cool” to be on Facebook, now its just another thing in the daily grind.