Doing Middle School Ministry looks a lot different today than it did when I first started full-time ministry back in 1997. In all honesty, any ministry that we were doing back in 1997 will probably look different than it does today. If we didn’t change and adapt to 2016, we would probably be failing in those areas.
But let’s be honest, many of us are still stuck in some of our old tactics for reaching people as we were some 20 years ago, no matter what our ministry is. That is why we need to change what we are doing. This is especially true in how we use Social Media for ministry.
If we want to be successful at reaching people today, we have to learn how to maximize Social Media to communicate better.
Communication is one of the key ingredients of effective ministry. After all, how will anyone ever know anything about your ministry unless you are to tell them? But it is not just about what you communication. It is becoming more and more about where and how you communicate.
For instance, getting information on Facebook and your other social media accounts is very important. Contrary to early reports, people are NOT fleeing Facebook. They keep flocking to it. In fact, Moms literally LOVE Facebook. It’s true. Try going to the elementary school at the end of the day when all the parents are picking up kids. What are they doing when they are waiting for their kids to come? They are on their phones checking Facebook.
But just as important as reaching moms on Facebook is reaching millennials. If you want to reach the next generation for Christ, communication is best these days through mobile outlets and social media. For instance, these are the key social media platforms you should be aware of and on…at least to some degree:
· Snapchat (not just for sexting anymore)
· Text (yes even Text is important).
People LOVE to share pictures and what they are up to (Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat), like to ready short witty updates from all sorts of people (Twitter), and they love to spend countless hours watching funny cat videos (YouTube). That is why is is so important to have a presencse on these networks so you know what people are up to and are able to communicate with them and all they are doing.
But even with these forms of communication, communicating to them is not just the only thing here. It is the way you communicate with them that is important.
How to communicate effectively on social media
Communication is not just about what you say but how you interact with others on those networks. What you say CAN and WILL come back to haunt you if you are not careful. Here are some tips:
1. Avoid negative chatter. On social media it can be easy to let emotions fly and say something negative in a post or reply negatively. However, never have I seen anyone convinced of another persons viewpoint on social media, especially when there is negativity involved. Furthermore, as a believer and minister, it is so important to communicate Christ (see #4) and, to my knowledge, Christ never convinced others about the love of God by tearing someone down, even if He knew he was right.
2. Be clear. Think through what you are going to say. There are so many times when, in our head, what we will write sounds great, but then on text it comes out wrong. Again, as a believer and minister, we really have to be crystal clear what we send out online and on social media. One mistake can come back to haunt you so make sure you read and re-read what you are going to send before you send it.
3. Be creative. In a world of short, witty video clips or creative pictures, teens and millennials are doing so much because they have these tools at their fingertips.
That is why how you communicate is equally important to what you communicate. You do have to be creative in your postings. Years ago, just typing in what you are doing and giving the details was good enough. Now you need more than that.
You need images or videos that tell the story. I know, I know…you think you aren’t creative at all. That may be true, but even if you are like me and don’t have a creative bone in your body, there are Apps for that. Apps like…
· Word Swag
· Adobe Post
These are all easy apps to get to know and that you can use to help tell the story and engage people.
4. Represent Christ. This is a no-brainer, but we need to be reminded that as believers and ministers, we need to represent Christ to everyone we come into contact with on social media.
As we seek to reach more and more people for Christ I am reminded by the old saying from Young Life, “go where they are”. Where are people today? They are on their mobile devices communicating with the world.
Step into that world and see what kind of conversations you can be having online that lead people to Christ.
What do you think? How are you using social media to communicate and minister to people today?
Tom started YMSidekick.com back in 2007 (under “Not a Mega Church” branding) with the purpose to help ministry leaders do ministry more effectively. Tom writes, create videos and podcast weekly. In addition to the work he does at YMSidekick.com, Tom blogs regularly forOrange Leaders and is an official Orange Blogger. Follow Tom on Twitter @tapounder