Youth Workers Eliminating Social Media

This idea started with several key conversations I have had in the past year. The first one was talking with a youth worker who wanted to keep his personal life separate from his ministry, honorable and smart. His solution to this idea was that he needed to have three Facebook usernames and would spend up to 4 hours total a day checking everything because it was so disjointed. Another conversation not long after that, a solo youth pastor without volunteers told me how they would spend one whole day a week for the sole purpose of their ministry’s online presence. Finally, I constantly see staff and admin trying to redesign, rework, and reinvent a lot of stuff with their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and everything else.

While the title may seem like I want to get rid of social media from ministry, that is simply not the case. We live in a world that has more time online with teens than offline and to ignore it may be to ignore so many teenagers. What we are proposing is that there is a line between using it as a tool to begin and build up relationships compared to wasting time online.

So what am I getting at? Look at the heart of what you are doing:

  1. Face Time With Students Is More Important
    Time with students is vital. I find that I barely have enough interaction for them, my volunteers, the parents, my boss, and God. Am I being a good steward of my time? Unless you are LifeChurch.tv, there should be no reason other than to spend 20 seconds sending a tweet or 5 minutes making a Facebook event. I actually have the requirement that I not spend more than 8 hours total a week on all social media. This does not mean ignoring it, but instead that I need to use my time wisely.
  2. Work To Your Strengths
    If you have volunteers, student leaders, or really involved parents that understand even just a little about social media, you have the opportunity to build some really amazing relationships with them and multiply the ministry by COMPLETELY handing off the project to them, do it! As a college volunteer, myself and another student were in charge of the web design, maintenance, and social media presence for our youth group. This empowered us as volunteers to feel like we were investing in the ministry and in the kingdom and I feel forever changed because of it. And if you do not have those people in your ministry, you have a bigger need than updating another Facebook status.
  3. Listen To God
    I love doing web designs because God has wired me to be equal parts artistic as logical. So when I find my introvertedness kicking in, I know I can go write some programming code, play around in Photoshop, or simply be alone with God and my heart, mind, and soul become more still. But if all these social networking tools start to become a distraction with your relationship with God or others, it is time to put it away. Unplug and go out into the real world. Your calling was not to have the best Facebook Page, but to show teens the glory of Christ.

14 Comments

  1. Is it ironic that I came to this article because it was linked on facebook? Great stuff though. Point 3 is key. I sometimes find myself wasting time just surfing facebook or twitter, and I know I could use that time for a lot of other things, especially spending it with God. Thanks for that.
  2. Is it ironic that I came to this article because it was linked on facebook? Great stuff though. Point 3 is key. I sometimes find myself wasting time just surfing facebook or twitter, and I know I could use that time for a lot of other things, especially spending it with God. Thanks for that.
  3. This is the best article I have read on this site. It is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I am going to work right now to delegate Social Media aspects. Thank you.
  4. This is the best article I have read on this site. It is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I am going to work right now to delegate Social Media aspects. Thank you.
  5. Not many of my students use the same social media that I do. When did Facebook become the old peoples' way of communicating? As a result, I am "forced" to build relationships face-to-face instead of online. Guess it works out better that way.
  6. Not many of my students use the same social media that I do. When did Facebook become the old peoples' way of communicating? As a result, I am "forced" to build relationships face-to-face instead of online. Guess it works out better that way.
  7. Great article challenging the norm, which is Youth Ministers and leaders spending hours honing their social networking and very little time engaging students and studying the Word. Like almost anything in ministry, social media is JUST A TOOL, and putting all your eggs in that basket will result in disappointment. Same with a building, a personality, or a ministry model. Thanks for reminding us where the real power comes from - relationships grounded in Christ.
  8. Great article challenging the norm, which is Youth Ministers and leaders spending hours honing their social networking and very little time engaging students and studying the Word. Like almost anything in ministry, social media is JUST A TOOL, and putting all your eggs in that basket will result in disappointment. Same with a building, a personality, or a ministry model. Thanks for reminding us where the real power comes from - relationships grounded in Christ.
  9. I don't get the idea of separating facebook accounts between "personal" and "ministry," especially if we tell youth to be the same type of person in and outside of church. Should they have a "youth group" facebook username and a "non christian friends" username? No way. We shouldn't have anything to hide (living above reproach) AND should want to be modeling what it looks like to walk with Christ. Every christian is in ministry and involves all aspects of our life...showing loving interaction and posts about your family is a huge thing to model to kids who often don't have that themselves.
  10. I don't get the idea of separating facebook accounts between "personal" and "ministry," especially if we tell youth to be the same type of person in and outside of church. Should they have a "youth group" facebook username and a "non christian friends" username? No way. We shouldn't have anything to hide (living above reproach) AND should want to be modeling what it looks like to walk with Christ. Every christian is in ministry and involves all aspects of our life...showing loving interaction and posts about your family is a huge thing to model to kids who often don't have that themselves.
  11. I am also thinking of reducing the amount of interaction that I do on Facebook because there is no way to read the context or intent of a statement. We read a sentence with our own perceptions and may completely misinterpret what is written.
  12. I am also thinking of reducing the amount of interaction that I do on Facebook because there is no way to read the context or intent of a statement. We read a sentence with our own perceptions and may completely misinterpret what is written.
  13. [...] We have already addressed the idea that social media should only be a tool for face-to-face relationships and eliminating social media from your tasks may be the best thing you can do for your leadership and this idea of passing the social media responsibility to your team would further that cause. Yet, the leadership model would put you in a room with several volunteers and student leaders talking about effectively engaging teenagers, their friends, and their families for the cause of Christ to share the Gospel and equip Christians to go deeper into their love for Christ. You begin to have honest conversations about the role social media should have, find new social network avenues that teenagers are on, and unique, fun uses of networks for your ministry (think “Instagram Hacks” by Josh Griffin). There are a lot of great resources out there to jumpstart social media for your ministry, you just need to take the time to find what is right for your ministry, gather the team to implement them, and release them to do amazing work. [...]

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