I saw this picture re-tweeted by one of my former students and it echoes a lot of what I’ve been seeing in the news concerning teenagers on Facebook.
According to this article, over 3 million teens have logged out of Facebook over the last three years. While that has implications for the business model of that particular social media giant, it also changes how youth ministers do ministry.
Now you may be ahead of the game and have been hearing from your students that they have been getting off of Facebook and instead posting on Twitter, or Instagram, or any other social media websites. Or they may not be posting to social media at all for the public to see but instead using private chat apps which are also popular. The oversharing of information teens did on Facebook is slowly going away and they are, instead, posting in more private forums, like Snapchat.
The point I want to make is this: as youth ministers we have to be doing ministry where our students are. That may mean posting to Twitter instead of Facebook, or it may mean sending lots of picture announcements over Instagram instead to the church website.
Remember when MySpace was cool? Or Xanga? Or Yahoo messenger? No student minister uses MySpace to connect with students. Well, OK, it’s possible. It’s so easy to claim we are doing ministry when we are on these websites, when really what we are doing is wasting time doing what’s fun or beneficial for us but irrelevant to our students. We have options when it comes to doing ministry and using current technology as a tool to help us:
- We could spend all of our time trying to be cool and relevant and only post to those websites which our students are on and using.
- We could use only those social media websites and tools that we personally like even if our students are no longer using them themselves.
- We could flee all social media and claim that nothing good can come from it and keep sending e-mails.
- Or we could try to balance using the technology our students are using in order to encourage them and spread the Gospel message.
Let’s not forget that our goal is not to be the coolest social media savvy hipster who also does youth ministry.
Instead, let’s do what Colossians 1:28 tells us to do:
We proclaim[Jesus], warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (HCSB)Even though it doesn’t seem like it right now, there will come a day when Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are no longer relevant to teenagers. But for now, we don’t have to run from those sites because students are, to some degree, are using them.So let’s use them while they are relevant and not become so fixated on them that we forget the thing that will truly stand the test of time: the Gospel.Ronald Long has been the youth minister for FBC Lexington, TN for six years. He’s married to Bekah and dad to Sophie and Penny. He blogs a bit at ronaldlong.org and tweets at @ronald_long. He also runs, plays video games, and eats Taco Bell. Check out his resources in the Download Youth Ministry store!