Would you believe that social media could be one of the handiest tools you have in your youth leader tool belt?
If you think about it, your students probably interact with their friends more through social media than face-to-face conversations, constantly snapping pictures and sharing funny “memes” with each other. So if we want to influence teenagers with the gospel right where they’re at, why not do so through social media?
Take a look at these seven tips to learn how to use your personal social media presence to build a gospel-sharing culture that your students can follow:
1. Create a group or profile for your ministry
A great way to give your students and leaders a go-to place to connect with each other, get event info, and share thoughts or prayer requests is to make a Facebook group for your ministry. Make a group with the same name as your ministry and invite your students and leaders to join it. You can use that page to post updates, encouraging Bible verses, and fun pictures of what’s going on every week. Even though it’s not face-to-face communication, having this virtual group can help build community within your ministry.
You can also make a page or profile for your ministry on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to keep students excited about youth group throughout the week.
2. Use online invites
Each time you plan an event for your youth group, create it on Facebook. This lets you invite as many students as you want and helps you better track who’s planning on coming. It makes it easier for students to RSVP and to post questions they might have about the event. Creating an event on Facebook is more relational and engaging than printing flyers and sending out mailers, and is overall easier for both you and your students.
If your event requires people to bring food, you can easily manage it by posting on the event wall what menu items are needed. People can respond with what they’re bringing to ease your load of coordinating who’s bringing what. And if for some reason the event needs to be adjusted or canceled, you can push that information instantly through Facebook.
3. Capture memorable moments
Spending time with teenagers is practically a guarantee that you’ll witness some memorable moments. Between their goofy, awkward humor and reckless spirit, exciting things will happen during your youth group times that you’ll want to share with others. Try to capture fun or powerful moments at your events through pictures and videos and posting them on your youth group’s page. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat also let you temporarily upload pictures and videos on your “story” that will stick around for 24 hours, which is a fun way to let others know what’s going on in your ministry that day.
Encourage your leaders to post about gospel advancing happenings on their own profiles to keep the students and community aware of what God is doing in your youth group. This helps keeps faith-sharing and youth ministry on your students’ minds as they see it throughout the week.
4. Fill in the gaps throughout the week
It was much harder to stay connected when youth leaders couldn’t know what students were up to during the week until Sunday morning or youth group nights. But with social media, you and your leaders can easily connect with students outside of church time and check in with them throughout the week.
Communicate the importance of this relationship-building tool to your leaders. Explain that you’re trying to create a culture among the students where Christ is in the center every day of the week. Your leaders will hopefully understand that social media allows students to always feel connected to the ministry and it affords leaders the opportunity of continuing the conversation after youth group. And by filling in the gaps, you can help your teenagers with accountability.
Obviously, we don’t need to “stalk” students’ profiles on Facebook or Instagram or watch every move they make online. But if you see a student post something questionable or update their status to suggest that they’re struggling with something, you could use that as a conversation starter and show your students that you really care about them, even when they’re not at church.
5. Work together
After your leaders understand what you’re trying to accomplish, encourage everyone to like and share each other’s posts. Most social media engines have a ranking system that favors posts with more interactions or impressions. By interacting with each other’s posts, there will be a greater chance that everyone’s posts will rank higher and gather more eyeballs for the sake of gospel advancement.
6. Personally demonstrate gospel advancement
Youth ministry is often like a big game of “Follow the Leader.” Help your leaders and students demonstrate authenticity by being authentic yourself. Illustrate a gospelized lifestyle in everything you do, including what you put social media, to set the tone for using this online tool as a means to reach the lost.
Use your youth group’s Facebook or Instagram page to post a video link, photo, or blog post you’ve found helpful when sharing your faith and offer it as a resource to your students. Be authentic about your own efforts and challenges as you seek to pray for, care for, and share the gospel with people in your life, just be sure to leave names out of it.
7. Don’t force it
Be careful to not go too far with social media. While you want to have some strategies to help promote your ministry, you don’t want it to appear manufactured or forced. Your students and their friends who might be checking out your ministry will value a fun and genuine culture. Have a conversation with your leaders on how to leverage social media—you don’t want your posts looking like a marketing campaign that’s only interested in generating sales or getting people to your events.
Let’s use social media to better captivate the students we lead, paint a clear picture of the gospel, and keep the priority of sharing our faith front and center!
You can find more tips on using social media in your youth ministry inside Dare 2 Share’s new eBook, 4 Tactics to Advance the Gospel on Social Media. Download your free copy today!