What program do you use to communicate with your students digitally?
I have seen youth ministries over the past few months communicate in a few ways, mainly we all have been communicating over zoom and YouTube.
You have all pivoted in such a remarkable way. You need to give yourself grace because no one has been a youth pastor in a pandemic. We are all trying to make the best of this situation. Way to go!
The new normal.
Our students have been digital fluent, but now we have to adapt our youth ministries to be strictly digital. This can be a challenge. How do we build connections and content today that is for students, connections, and content that they actually want?
With that said, there are a few options to create content for students. Students are looking for authentic connection. They are looking for connection over content. I have seen youth ministries create a ton of content that no one is asking for. I often wonder if it’s a way to justify a job in a time when jobs are being cut. It’s ok to say that you are worried about your job, everyone is wondering what pastoral ministry will look like in a year. But, remember that youth ministry’s strength is that it’s based on relationships and not just programs.
Zoom vs YouTube
Youth ministries are using zoom as a way to create space for students to connect in smaller groups. This is a great tool for creating a two-way connection. It can also limit the way you reach students if you are only on Zoom.
A few ways to create a fun environment in a zoom online meeting is limiting the time, playing a game together, being vulnerable, and asking for input. Creating a fun and exciting space digitally can be so tricky. You can see a few options on our post called: 5 Fun Games To Play on Zoom.
One of the issues I see with zoom is that it’s really only for kids who are already connected to your church. I think it would be difficult to have unchurched students show up to a zoom call. Most youth ministries have lost almost all of their students who are unchurched.
Would I go to an online meeting when I was in high school? Probably not. It’s not the people in the space, it’s the way you lose authentic connection in an online meeting. It’s the awkwardness of an online zoom call. So much of human connection is body language, and it’s difficult to read someone in a digital meeting.
Zoom is a great tool that youth pastors can use to create a space for students who are already connected to the community. It’s a great way to create small groups that you have already had established.
YouTube is a space where you can build a platform and connect with anyone. I personally think that youth ministries should be YouTube to at least build a presence online so that when students in your area are searching or looking for connection, your youth ministry would be there. They wouldn’t need a special code to get into a meeting.
Ways to build your YouTube channel is to create content that your students are actually asking. One of the best ways to build content is to ask students what they want to learn about, or what they and their friends are struggling with in this time.
You can build bit sized content that your students will watch online. You can invest some money into gear, or just use your phone. Authentic and transparency is more important today that having the right gear, but if you are looking for some gear check out on of our posts on it.
YouTube is a place to put your content, and Zoom is a place for connection. Use them both to maximize your youth ministry in a digital time. It’s not one of the other, but you should be using both. Students might want to connect on Zoom, but they might also just want to connect to you and your group on YouTube.
Keep learning friends. Flexibility is our new super weapon in this time.