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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.