I love to talk about communication strategy and how to ensure the correct message gets to the right people. I frequently work with congregations, church plants and sometimes youth leaders to figure out how to use their limited budgets to communicate well with their intended audience.
In this case, the focus could be on the best methods to communicate with youth.
This could easily fit in the excellent blog that Mavis Moon offers on Church and Web. It could also fit in a number of other blogs simply because communication in all areas of ministry needs to be strategic and effective.
The first point I would make is that a limited budget should never be an excuse for limited communication. Especially with students, you don’t need a lot of money because you shouldn’t be doing much printing and mailing.
I would suggest that the best methods of communicating with your youth group include face-to-face discussion when possible, and then look at social networking (Facebook) and texting as the next best options.
Facebook is the fastest expanding communication tool in the history of the world. It’s about seven years-old and still growing rapidly. Facebook went from 13 million users in 2007 to 200 million in 2009 to 400 million in 2010. It’s pretty easy to get students to “friend” you and that offers all sorts of opportunities to keep in touch with them.
Texting has also seen significant growth. There were 1 trillion text messages sent in 2008. There were 2.5 trillion text messages send in January. Another reason to use texting is that currently, less than 10% of the text messages sent are spam, so most folks read the texts that they receive.
A sociologist that I worked with on a project last year also noted that texting opens up social opportunities for high school students that are very shy or have low self esteem. They might not dare talk to other students or adults, but typically will text with these same individuals.
If your website is active and changes frequently, it’s possible that students will check it out as well. Though realistically, you’ll get more hits on your website from parents than students. If you send your youth group print pieces in the mail, the pieces will most likely sit on the kitchen counter until one of the parents either opens the mail or forces their children to open it. Print doesn’t work well with youth and it certainly costs more than the options I’ve noted above.
So as you look for a strategy to communicate well with your youth group, I would suggest that you use many communication tools, make sure you are communicating often, and that you use the same technology that your youth group is using.
I can talk about this stuff all day long, so if any youth leaders want to kick around ideas or discuss this I more detail, just let me know.