The Key to Good Communication in Youth ministry

But they rarely are able to relay important information. And when we assume they are, ministry suffers. One time I handed out calendars for the next few months at the door as students were leaving.  I gave one to a kid whose mom had parked literally 10 feet from the door; he got the calendar, walked right out the door to the car, got in, and lost it. I didn’t see him lose it, but his Mom never got it, and they couldn’t find it in the van, his room, his clothes, anywhere… It was just gone.

To this day, I have no idea what in the world happened.

I’ve learned a lot about communicating with parents since then and I still am learning, almost every week, how to better keep parents in the loop; not just with dates, but with purpose, vision, and ideals. I won’t say I’ve discovered any key to this; but what I am reminded of, and am sure you sometimes need to be reminded of as well, is the basic fact and truth that in Youth Ministry the key to good communication is to over-communicate.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate, and then Communicate some more.

We have a few events coming up in the next few weeks that I know our students all know about, but how many of their parents know? How many of their parents know why we are doing them? What’s expected of their students? What’s the cost? Can their students can bring friends? And something I’ve caught myself saying in the past, and maybe you have too, is that it’s ridiculous for me to have to send out an email about every event, and then write a post on the student ministry website about it, and then post it on Facebook, and then post it on Instagram, and then make hand-out flyers…just to communicate that next Wednesday we are having ice cream on a different part of the campus. But here are a few things that I have come to rest in for communication in Student Ministry: 1 – I’ll never regret over-communicating, but I will almost always regret communicating poorly. 2 – The ministry will be better if I can pass this off to someone else. It might take more work to get everything prepared for them to make all the emails, blog posts, Instagram images, etc.; but that will just force me to have a more organized event, which in the end, will turn out better. 3 – The reality is that it probably takes less than an hour to over-communicate. Is it worth an hour a week to ensure that all of our students and their parents are going to be aware of what’s going on next week so that they can come, know where to go, not be left out of the loop, and not feel like I don’t care about them? If I ever find myself answering “no” to that question, I only hope it’s because I’m resigning ministry. So what are your thoughts on communication in Youth Ministry? Would you agree that, for the most part, Youth Pastors are poor communicators? Why do you think students fail to relay information, and how can we help them with that?
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24 Comments

  1. The way I see it: You may spend an hour or two communicating, but imagine the never-ending hours you'll spend hearing about how you didn't communicate.
    • So true. That's what I was trying to get at at the end. On google+, I asked, how would your ministry this past year have been different if you had communicated better? Because talking to guys on twitter, even when you communicate the best way possible and 500 other ways, you'll still have parents out of the loop, so there is always room for improvement. But imagine what would have been different with just a little more investment in communication.
      • And that's true too--there will always be someone who feels that they weren't communicated to enough. But at least this way, you have physical "evidence" of your communication. TAKE THAT PARENTS WHO DON'T PAY ATTENTION!!! Sorry, I got a little excited. ;)
  2. The way I see it: You may spend an hour or two communicating, but imagine the never-ending hours you'll spend hearing about how you didn't communicate.
    • So true. That's what I was trying to get at at the end. On google+, I asked, how would your ministry this past year have been different if you had communicated better? Because talking to guys on twitter, even when you communicate the best way possible and 500 other ways, you'll still have parents out of the loop, so there is always room for improvement. But imagine what would have been different with just a little more investment in communication.
      • And that's true too--there will always be someone who feels that they weren't communicated to enough. But at least this way, you have physical "evidence" of your communication. TAKE THAT PARENTS WHO DON'T PAY ATTENTION!!! Sorry, I got a little excited. ;)
  3. Here is how I typically communicate important information: Send out a physical mailer Send out a text to all students and parents That text is linked to our social media accounts and updates them. I share the Facebook post on my personal site and retweet from Twitter. Email parents. I send out another text the day before an event. If it's a REALLY important deadline (like $ registration) I send out a postcard close to the date. You DO run the risk of communicating to the point where you're just adding noise, but like you said: I never regret overcommunicating.
  4. Here is how I typically communicate important information: Send out a physical mailer Send out a text to all students and parents That text is linked to our social media accounts and updates them. I share the Facebook post on my personal site and retweet from Twitter. Email parents. I send out another text the day before an event. If it's a REALLY important deadline (like $ registration) I send out a postcard close to the date. You DO run the risk of communicating to the point where you're just adding noise, but like you said: I never regret overcommunicating.
  5. The way I see it, yes we must communicate with the parents and students... However, the students need to learn responsibility and if they aren't willing to hand their mom/dad a piece of paper, then how can they hold a job, do well in school etc etc? I think also an underlying question is, do the parents care enough about the ministry to hound their kids about that piece of paper or event? If parents can get their kids to do their homework, this shouldn't be a problem with a slip of paper for an event. I don't think we can fully blame the Youth Pastors on this one...
    • I agree. Our teenagers need to learn responsibility...yet I would rather just do the grunt work, honestly. ha!
  6. The way I see it, yes we must communicate with the parents and students... However, the students need to learn responsibility and if they aren't willing to hand their mom/dad a piece of paper, then how can they hold a job, do well in school etc etc? I think also an underlying question is, do the parents care enough about the ministry to hound their kids about that piece of paper or event? If parents can get their kids to do their homework, this shouldn't be a problem with a slip of paper for an event. I don't think we can fully blame the Youth Pastors on this one...
    • I agree. Our teenagers need to learn responsibility...yet I would rather just do the grunt work, honestly. ha!
  7. So good, Ben. I try to communicate multiple ways to every demographic. Website, social media, papers, bulletins, etc. It's time-consuming, but keeps everyone in the loop. Great article.
  8. So good, Ben. I try to communicate multiple ways to every demographic. Website, social media, papers, bulletins, etc. It's time-consuming, but keeps everyone in the loop. Great article.
  9. Great points. You can never communicate too much. This principle is especially important when working with youth staff or summer interns. Managing people, to me, seems a lot more time consuming than just doing things myself. But, with proper communication, they have opportunity to grow and bloom.
  10. Great points. You can never communicate too much. This principle is especially important when working with youth staff or summer interns. Managing people, to me, seems a lot more time consuming than just doing things myself. But, with proper communication, they have opportunity to grow and bloom.
  11. Good write-up! I've personally been doing a pretty poor job communicating with parents. I'm hoping to get a newsletter going this week to help keep them updated. One of my issues that the VAST majority of my students' parents don't attend our church!
  12. Communication is so tricky. Being a youth pastor myself, I too have seen this to be a constant challenge. One vital lesson I have learned this year about communication is genuine communication with our students. If the only time I text them is to invite to student service that's not communicating a great message of caring for them. I believe communicating just to invite them to a service and not to really ask how they are can effect the communication through teaching them too. I agree that student ministers can be poor communicators for sure at times. Communication happens when two or more interact with information. just because we hand them a flyer doen't mean communication happened. Over communication on events is always a win in my opinion. Thanks for sharing

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