Entertainment media and technology consumes a huge part, if not the biggest part, of our teenagers’ day (9 hours a day… to be exact). So when it comes to youth group time, should we attempt to amputate their phones from their hand, or should we incorporate it as a part of the evening?

What if I suggested you should not only allow phones, but also use them as a key part of your activities – and as a bonus, that would help you spread the word about your ministry?

That’s exactly what I’m suggesting. And creative activities like DYM’s INSTANT INSTAGRAM are a perfect example. Because this game is not only a fun way for kids to use their phone during youth ministry time, it gets them posting pictures about youth ministry for all their friends to see!

Sure, the verdict is still out. You’ll find people polarized on either side. Do we fight phones or tolerate them? Some leaders see phones as sheer distraction, with plenty of evidence to boost. Others are discovering ways to use technology within youth ministry venues, rather than fighting that battle.

I’ve seen both extremes. I’ve visited youth worship times where kids literally drop their phones in a bucket as they enter the door. On the other extreme, I’ve seen ministries that incorporate the phone throughout the evening, asking kids to pull out their phones and text someone right then, applying what they just learned.

Personally, I never force kids to put their phones away. My approach is to provide something relevant enough so they won’t want to pull out their phones and start browsing their news feed.

At times I actually have students pull our their phones and use them in the middle of my talks. Some examples are:

  • Pull open your Bible app and turn to…
  • Text a friend right now and ask them….
  • If you have any questions about this, text me right now at this number and we’ll answer these questions anonymously…
  • Take a picture of this and post it…

What about you? Are you for or against phones during youth ministry time?

If you’ve used phones, what are ways you’ve had success?

JONATHAN McKEE is the author of over a dozen books, including the 10-Minute Talks series, and has created heaps of great resources in the DYM store including the new game, Instant Instagram.