Being the youth pastor at a small church, I have learned the value of communication and the cost of assumption. When we have upcoming events, we post them on our church site, our youth site, our youth Facebook site and posts reminders in twitter, email, church calendars, church bulletins, and on and on and on. And yet we still have students signing up for camp at the last minute or missing the signups all together. We have even gone as far as putting the signups online to allow our students to sign up any time day or night. We put our medical release and permission slips for trips on our website and at almost every event, the students and parents are filing them out in the parking lot just prior to the event.
Communication through Facebook, just simply doesn’t work.
The youth in our group are so much more advanced in technology than the youth of even just a few years ago. Today some in our group are on Facebook primarily while others use twitter more often. Some of our kids use their phones for communication through social media more than their pc’s. They have more friends on Facebook than the number of people that I have known in my life. Some would rather send a text message than talk to the person on the phone.
So with all of the tools of communication out there, with all of the ways to get information in front of them why does communication break down?
Communication to students and their families through technology, just simply doesn’t work.
One of the things that I love about being a small church youth pastor is my connection. I know each of my youth by name. I know their parents by name. I have had lunch after services on Sunday with almost all of them and their families at one time or another. I know when they suffer hurt, loss and tragedy. I get to see first hand how they are affected by difficult times in the world. I am personally connected to them.
Assuming that they saw a post on the youth site or even in the church bulletin about an upcoming event is one of the worst mistakes that I could make in my ministry if it causes just one of our youth to miss an opportunity to grow closer to Christ.
So when we have an important date, an important event, a due date for a deposit, or I know one of my families has a need or is hurting, we reach out personally. If we need feedback on a major event, we schedule a time and get all our parents together. Sure we post reminders through the media mentioned above, but each parent gets reminded personally that day of the meeting. If a youth or family member is going through a difficult time, they get a phone call, not an email. We follow up on prayer requests especially when it’s for difficult situations. We want our youth and their families to know that we care about them.
One of the best things in ministry is when you realize that a simple phone call to check on a student or their family, has made a difference in their lives. You’ll never get tired of hearing, “I’m so glad that you called…..”