Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Communication

Posted on by YFC Seattle

By Warren Mainard, CORE & Youth Ministry Network Director

Practice Six: What’s the Plan? Communicate the Plan and Plan the Communication

“That was an awesome night! I just wish more people had come…”

How often have you heard that? If you have been in youth ministry for a little while, probably more than once.  As youth leaders, we put great effort and pride into preparing relevant, life-changing messages, creating intentional opportunities for spiritual growth, planning memorable outreach events and programs and leading spectacular trips, camps and retreats.  Youth leaders are creative, fun, funny, relational, deep, insightful, caring, and compassionate people who have incredible gifting to put together amazing experiences for students on a consistent, regular basis.

Unfortunately, it seems that students forget to sign up, parents don’t know what’s going on, and your leaders and volunteers have something else come up far too often.  Most students never get around to inviting friends to outreach events and things just remain status quo.

One of the keys to effective growth in youth ministry is learning to Communicate the Plan and Plan the Communication.  To be honest, as a youth leader, I got tired of students forgetting, parents stopping me a minute before church to ask me to give them all the details for the winter retreat and leaders showing up unprepared for the night’s activity.  I will let you in on a little secret - there is no Silver Bullet.  There is no single thing that will effectively reach and inform every person in your ministry.  So, here are some keys to remember when communicating the plan and planning the communication.

  • Communicate Early:  The more important the event or activity, the earlier you need to communicate.  Summer Camp should be planned 11 months out.  Your Winter Retreat details should be available by the fall and your Spring Break trip by December.  Ideally, plan your calendar a year in advance with all of your teaching series, major events and activities, and basic details.  Don’t forget to consult the church calendar and the school district calendar in advance for potential conflicts.
  •  Know and Include The Details:  Parents need to know - When, Where, Who, What, Why and How Much for every event you plan.  Do not count on your students to remember the details, bring home the info or even mention it to their parents.  Post all of your important details in one static online location that everyone can see and access.  The ideal place is on the student ministry page of the church website.  Posting to social media is temporary and easily missed, so keep it somewhere easy to find and access.  In addition, keep pdf’s or links to all of the details on your phone.  When stopped to request details, you will have it quickly available.
  • Understand The Generations: Every generation communicates differently.  Therefore, they all need different communication strategies.  Parents will be on email and Facebook, students are on Insta and Snap, and some only use text.  Consider a service like GroupMe, WhatsApp or Remind as an additional tool.  
  • Remember the Power of a Personal Invitation: When it came to important events like Summer Camp or Winter Retreat, I always carved out time to call every single student and/or parent in my student ministry to personally invite them and answer any questions they might have.  As my youth ministries grew from 4 to 40 to over 100+, this became more of a group effort involving staff, adult leaders, and student leaders.  Sometimes, we would even have a “calling party” to blitz call every single student connected to our student ministry.
  • Develop a Communication Plan:  Determine how you keep consistent, ongoing communication going to your students, parents, and leaders. For instance,
    • Parent Information Packet with full Youth Calendar - Every August
    • Monthly Email to Parents
    • Weekly Texts to Students and Leaders - Monday.
    • Social Media Posts (FB, Insta, Twitter and Snap) every Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Don’t Forget the Follow Up:  Sometimes the best communication is that which takes place after the event or service is over.  Take time to thank those who participated, ask for feedback, and listen/share stories of how God worked through the students.  

If you are an enthusiastic, creative, motivated youth leader, you are doing some incredible things! Make sure every student has every opportunity to be a part of your awesome ministry.  Communicate the Plan and Plan the Communication!

Other Posts in this Series:

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Be, Know, Do

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Balance

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Parental Guidance

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Mentorship

Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Teamwork

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