This is a post from Jeremy Cannon, our Sandals Youth Intern. Since coming on board here, I have loved the system he has set up for our leaders to be set up for success:
Check out our small group leader website HERE
No matter the size of your church, we all have one thing in common – we want our small group leaders to win in discipling the youth in our churches!
Though there are many things that can get in the way of this, I want to highlight one: distributing valuable content to group leaders.
You can email a link to YouTube videos or podcasts on helping your leaders grow or engage student culture, share a quick blurb to them on Instagram about what God is doing in your ministry, or shoot them a text on what to expect that night. Let’s be honest though – the vast amount of information can become a tad overwhelming if everything was over email (Do your leaders even read those?), text, or social media.
Whether you have five volunteer leaders or have to manage a hundred plus leaders, we can all agree that we don’t want to overwhelm and overload our leaders. Rather, our job is to SIMPLIFY the process for them.
The way we decided to simplify the process for our youth leaders across our 9-campus youth ministry is to build a website that has everything a leader in our youth ministry may need.
Why A Website?
If your church utilizes G Suite (Google Suite) you can (and should) create a website for your leaders to be informed of what’s going on in your ministry. Here are three reasons why:
- It’s easy to set up.
Literally. I set it up in one day. Just make sure you’re logged into your Google account and go to https://sites.google.com/new to create a page.
- It’s easy to manage.
You can post YouTube videos, upload videos from your phone to encourage your group leaders, share documents from Google Drive, embed podcasts and Vimeo videos – and so much more!
- It’s adaptable.
Need a page with training videos? You can do that. Need to post some announcements with graphics? That’s possible, too. Need to have pre-registration for an upcoming event? It’s easily set up through Google Forms and posted to your website. Need a llama for tonight’s petting zoo? Sorry, you’re on your own for that…
Set-up and Managment
You may wonder – how do I do this? What does it take to do this? Glad you asked. Here’s what we’ve learned in setting ours up:
- Get G Suite.
https://gsuite.google.com/ – just do it! It’ll be worth it because it already includes so much such as email, sharable drive, webcasting, and so many other features that I have yet to use.
- Get a domain.
Honestly, this is what I know the LEAST about and in fact is OPTIONAL. For example, our church as a whole uses the shortlink “move.sc/” to easily move our people to certain things (marriage, men and women events, start a group, camp registration, etc.). We utilized this to easily send our group leaders to a website to access everything they need (see it at move.sc/youthleader). Again, this is optional and I know nothing about it – so have your tech-savvy communications director or website designer help you out. If you skip this step, simply send your leaders a “published link” provided from the G Suite Website application.
- Load everything into an organized, shareable folder.
Put everything you want on the website into one well-organized folder and make sure the sharing preferences are set to “anyone with the link can view.” Keeping it organized will help you in the long-run. Ours is organized by year and series (i.e. Website Folder > 2019 > Own It Series). The sharing preference mode makes your leaders able to view but not edit your file or access your drive. They’re still able to print and add it to their own Google Drive (if they want to).
- Prepare beforehand.
We currently organize our series into 3 weeks (typically). All content is prepared beforehand so that as we enter INTO the series everything is prepped and ready to go. We make discussion guides for JH and HS, a video with a preview of that week’s topic, a host guide and teaching video (see those at move.sc/youthhost). We clearly date everything (especially file names, i.e. “HS Guide_FOR_Love Your Enemies_8.28.19” which is “Guide Name_Series Name_Topic Name_Date of Teaching”) and have the topic of discussion clearly communicated.
- Keep it up-to-date and with new content.
The most important thing you can do for your leaders is to keep the site up to date on events, teaching materials, and any other dated content. If it’s old, take it down. If it’s not a series you’ve begun, simply use the “Hide From Navigation” in the individual page’s side-panel menu. In fact, make it easy on yourself – find a page format that works for you and stick to it for every series. Simply “Duplicate Page” in the page’s side-panel menu and change the content.
In fact, challenge yourself to put up a new training video once a month (easily done via your phone, uploaded to your drive or YouTube) and utilize Google Forms to receive “graded answers” from your leaders based on the video’s content. This way you know if they may struggle to grasp a concept or perhaps you didn’t communicate the topic well enough (be humble enough to admit this).
- Get feedback.
If it’s hard to navigate, your leaders won’t want to use it. Get feedback from them as you’re getting it set up so that it can be an amazing tool for them to disciple their group. Don’t create it to the point that you think it’s awesome – create it to the point that your leaders think it is.
You could always use the website feature for other things, such as:
- Parent website
- Camp registration or interest list
- Website for your youth to visit (dorky videos, memes, encouragement – whatever may gather them or their friends)
- Personal blog or vlog
There are a ton more features and possibilities that are better left discovered by yourself.
The last thing I’ll say is this: When designing your site, always remember: simplify, simplify, SIMPLIFY. Your leaders will love you for it.