We are forgetful people. We always have been, ever since the Israelites left Egypt and continually fell into enemy hands because they had forgotten what God did for them, and we probably always will be, because with information swirling all around us in the form of the Internet, television, smart phones, etc., there’s no way we can remember it all.
That’s why in ministry, whether you are promoting the next youth ministry event or encouraging parents during the difficult task of raising teens, there are three things to remember in order for your message to be communicated effectively.
1. Electronic communication is crucial. For starters, it’s easy. Well, at least it’s easy for those of us who grew up in the age of computers. Sending an email reminder, setting up an e-newsletter, updating a website, and texting brief info are all simple and usually quick. Not only does electronic communication save money on postage, it’s often FREE! Set up a (free!) Facebook page for your ministry and update it daily, create a Mailchimp account to send (free!) e-newsletters and email blasts, create a (free!) stylish website with Weebly or one of many other easy to use website hosts, and start a web-based database using Simply Youth Ministry Tools (for free!).
Electronic communication gets your message to the people where they need it, on their phone, iPad, computer, etc., so they can save it how they want it and find it when they need it. This is the way people’s minds are moving: don’t know the answer to something? Google it! It’s is all about making it easy for those you are communicating to, so do what you can to make sure you and your ministry are heard.
2. While communicating through new media is vital to any ministry, written communication is still not outdated. Many have switched over to electronic-only communication, such as emailing newsletters, texting event details, and updating the website. And as much as I would like to move to all web and email based communication, there are still people left in the “dark ages” of communication. While not completely free, you can send home flyers or mail postcards with valuable information to parents and students. Submit something to be printed in the church bulletin or pass out a half-sheet of information as people leave the service.
This is an important step for the dwindling population who prefer something to hold, put on the fridge, or file away for a later date, as it gives them something to refer back to in their preferred style. By doing this, you’re making sure not to leave the paper-loving generation in the dark when it comes to information. You are acknowledging where they are and walking alongside them, hoping to eventually show them the light of electronic communication.
3. The one mode of communication that will probably never fall into a “dark age” is personal, face to face communication. When getting a message across, face to face communication matters most, and it probably always will. Catch a parent before they leave the building to check in, say hi, and ask them whether or not their teens will be attending the next big event. Look for students while on their school campuses, meet their friends, and make connections. Ask a parent face to face if they are finding the information in your e-newsletter helpful and get input to make you electronic communication even better.
Personal, face to face communication communicates value for the individual you are talking to and for the ministry. You’ve taken time out of your day to connect with them and to better involve them in the process of seeing teens connect with God. This speaks wonders to a parent worried about their children.
4. And here’s a bonus forth tip for communicating a message in ministry…
DO ALL THREE! Like a pine needle is made up of three separate needles, we need three forms of communication to have effective communication. Don’t send an email and assume it didn’t get filtered to spam or deleted by accident. Don’t just put an announcement in the bulletin and assume that everyone will be diligent about reading every word. Don’t tell someone about an event and not give them the resources to find the information later after they’ve forgotten what you said. Communicate, communicate, communicate. And if you think there’s a chance your message hasn’t gotten through, communicate again. We’re called to make disciples of Christ, and effective communication to both students and parents is a vital organizational step so we can be freed up to see lives changed.
*Tim received his Bachelor of Arts in Youth Ministries and Master of Divinity from Azusa Pacific University. Having never lived outside of California, Tim and his wife, Emily, have recently moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Tim serves as the Pastor Pastor of Student Ministries at Coeur d’Alene Bible Church. You can follow Tim on Twitter @tgardner7