Youth Pastors and Self Promotion

The PsychologyYouth pastors, by spiritual nature, are teachers and desire to contribute knowledge to their community. Sometimes at church we might get shut down by a committee, pastors, or even our students.  And perhaps we are insecure; when things aren’t going so hot at church, we over-talk the things we are proud of.  We try to contribute to a community of other youth pastors that can see we have some strengths; strengths that our churches can overlook. Youth pastors are also used to trying to promote their youth group and begging people to check out their church, web page, or event.  So it makes sense that when we post a blog, we begin begging people to read it.

The Problem

Pride creeps in and tells the pastor that their blog or contribution to the youth pastor community is their identity.  Pride tells them that if they get 100 retweets or comments on their blog, then they are valuable and worthy. And others can see this pride–it’s redundant when someone fills up my feed with their blog posts and nothing else.  It’s annoying when I ask somebody for help and they just link me to their blog.  It’s usually irrelevant as well.  And hopefully, it’s misrepresentative of the pastor. As someone who has always struggled with finding her identity in the affirmation of others, it is draining for both my self and for those I interact with.  If I am only finding my confidence in others, where is God in this equation?

The Proper Ways to Promote

Promote your group.

You want to fill my news feed up with something you love?  Quit filling it up with yourself–fill it up with how much you love your students. Your students see your stuff too, and will see that you love ministry not because it makes you “famous” (in your own little world) but because you love students.

Promote community. 

Realize that you need community, not a pat on the back.  It’s great when someone retweets me or tells me I had a great post.  But what we really yearn for is interaction with that post.  So that means we need to interact with others as well.

Promote others.

You want to post links to great information? Great!  Post a variety of links to others’ blogs.  I love posting links to different stuff in my Twitter account; whether it’s youth ministry blogs, parenting sites, youth culture reports, etc.  This shows I don’t just love my blog and what have to say, but many others.

Promoting others is promoting learning and promoting humility.

What do you guys think?  Are you fed up with youth pastors promoting themselves?  How do you make sure that you “promote” your blog, website, or group effectively without becoming obsessed or annoying?

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21 Comments

  1. Great post, Heather. I struggle through my Twitter feed often, and there are definitely the standard "offenders." I think you have answered the call to humility and community well.
    • I used to so much of a better job at this. I hardly ever actually use twitter now with the exception of trying to partake in the tweet chats. Social Media used to consume so much of my time and now I hardly use it like I used to at all. Good post, Heather. The only thing I'd give you pushback on is that I feel fakeness often when I see people promoting their groups. I think it's just as easy to fall into this same trap with promoting our Youth Groups, it's just a lot easier to disguise because we SHOULD be promoting our groups, but we SHOULD NOT be doing it to build our identity.
      • Agreed! We should not find our identity in the affirmation of others... if people read my personal blog, they know that this was my big sin for the longest time. After growing up in St. Louis and then working with at-risk teens for three years, I think it's safe to say that I no longer care what people think of me...okaywellthatsalie
  2. Great post, Heather. I struggle through my Twitter feed often, and there are definitely the standard "offenders." I think you have answered the call to humility and community well.
    • I used to so much of a better job at this. I hardly ever actually use twitter now with the exception of trying to partake in the tweet chats. Social Media used to consume so much of my time and now I hardly use it like I used to at all. Good post, Heather. The only thing I'd give you pushback on is that I feel fakeness often when I see people promoting their groups. I think it's just as easy to fall into this same trap with promoting our Youth Groups, it's just a lot easier to disguise because we SHOULD be promoting our groups, but we SHOULD NOT be doing it to build our identity.
      • Agreed! We should not find our identity in the affirmation of others... if people read my personal blog, they know that this was my big sin for the longest time. After growing up in St. Louis and then working with at-risk teens for three years, I think it's safe to say that I no longer care what people think of me...okaywellthatsalie
  3. Heather!!!! You went to SBU??? So did I!! Now that we have that out of the way, this is a subject that I have had numerous convos about with my youth pastor friends. I hate self-promotion...but I do think we share a call to equip the saints. That said, I do post links to my blog on my Twitter and Facebook. I also contribute to other blogs and take opportunities to write for youth ministry publications that I think bear out a mission to equip youth workers to be stronger, better, more holy. So where does the line become crossed in self-promotion? I'm not sure. If someone has a great idea, has learned a hard lesson from experience, or has a God-given message - I'd want them to share that with me. And having come from an age where that kind of information was not nearly as readily available as it is now, I treasure that. I rarely regard it as self promotion. For me, I share successes, failures, personal stuff because I value community, shared experience, and the opportunity to connect with youth workers who know WAY more than me and a few who might benefit from my experiences, as well. When I see someone blogging who solely tries to paint themselves in a 'beautiful light', that's when I become suspect. Great thoughts - thanks for sharing. GO BEARCATS!
    • Darren, I knew I liked you. I don't think it's wrong to post our own links. I think it's wrong when that's ALL we talk about in our social networking--like all we care about is ourselves. Engage with others on Twitter, post some things that others have contributed to the youth ministry world... to me, people who only post THEIR stuff appear to think that THEY are the ONLY ones who have anything to say about anything.
  4. Heather!!!! You went to SBU??? So did I!! Now that we have that out of the way, this is a subject that I have had numerous convos about with my youth pastor friends. I hate self-promotion...but I do think we share a call to equip the saints. That said, I do post links to my blog on my Twitter and Facebook. I also contribute to other blogs and take opportunities to write for youth ministry publications that I think bear out a mission to equip youth workers to be stronger, better, more holy. So where does the line become crossed in self-promotion? I'm not sure. If someone has a great idea, has learned a hard lesson from experience, or has a God-given message - I'd want them to share that with me. And having come from an age where that kind of information was not nearly as readily available as it is now, I treasure that. I rarely regard it as self promotion. For me, I share successes, failures, personal stuff because I value community, shared experience, and the opportunity to connect with youth workers who know WAY more than me and a few who might benefit from my experiences, as well. When I see someone blogging who solely tries to paint themselves in a 'beautiful light', that's when I become suspect. Great thoughts - thanks for sharing. GO BEARCATS!
    • Darren, I knew I liked you. I don't think it's wrong to post our own links. I think it's wrong when that's ALL we talk about in our social networking--like all we care about is ourselves. Engage with others on Twitter, post some things that others have contributed to the youth ministry world... to me, people who only post THEIR stuff appear to think that THEY are the ONLY ones who have anything to say about anything.
  5. Solid. Great stuff Heather. I would like to think I dont fall into this, but I could be wrong. I think there is a big difference in posting your own stuff because maybe it can help someone out in need and they see the title and think "Man I'm going through that right now" and blatantly self-promoting with the intentions of "getting big". I think a heart check is in order if you are posting your own stuff and asking "Why" you are wanting your stuff out there. I try to go by the rule of for every time I send something up with a link to my blog, i try and promote someone else's post too. Trying to be balanced because there are a ton of people posting things that are way better than mine.
  6. Solid. Great stuff Heather. I would like to think I dont fall into this, but I could be wrong. I think there is a big difference in posting your own stuff because maybe it can help someone out in need and they see the title and think "Man I'm going through that right now" and blatantly self-promoting with the intentions of "getting big". I think a heart check is in order if you are posting your own stuff and asking "Why" you are wanting your stuff out there. I try to go by the rule of for every time I send something up with a link to my blog, i try and promote someone else's post too. Trying to be balanced because there are a ton of people posting things that are way better than mine.
  7. But what if people lament when you don't post your stuff? I fall into this category and it kills me. I try to stay humble, but people just won't allow it. Great post! You just affirm that we need to be sensitive to the things we are posting, and that we're not turning people off from Christ.
  8. But what if people lament when you don't post your stuff? I fall into this category and it kills me. I try to stay humble, but people just won't allow it. Great post! You just affirm that we need to be sensitive to the things we are posting, and that we're not turning people off from Christ.
  9. I want to start with "great post Heather!" yet that seems counter to what this post is about... I agree with you and yet I struggle with it as well. I can honestly say that I genuinely hate promoting my own stuff, yet I also realize that if I don't promote it then no one will read it and then I feel like I am falling short of what God has asked me to do. What I have realized though, just like we see our students do, we are way more bold online than we are in person. What gets portrayed on different social groups or sites is often times very different than how someone is in person. Not sure exactly what the answer is to change that...I am truly very conflicted...
  10. I want to start with "great post Heather!" yet that seems counter to what this post is about... I agree with you and yet I struggle with it as well. I can honestly say that I genuinely hate promoting my own stuff, yet I also realize that if I don't promote it then no one will read it and then I feel like I am falling short of what God has asked me to do. What I have realized though, just like we see our students do, we are way more bold online than we are in person. What gets portrayed on different social groups or sites is often times very different than how someone is in person. Not sure exactly what the answer is to change that...I am truly very conflicted...
  11. Great Post! I believe we must remember who we Serve! Our Accomplishments are but filthy rags to Christ. Without Him we can do nothing! Always check motives I believe helps too, what is the purpose of our blog is it to make ourselves know or to really help others. Some of the most successful blogs are the ones who are putting great content out to help others. Thanks for an amazing resource and community youthmin.org

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