Texting & Youth Ministry

Is text messaging a big problem in your ministry? A little problem? Not a problem at all?

I’m currently gathering information about cell use in youth ministry to try to get my brain around the issues. What are you seeing, sensing, feeling in regards to teenagers and texting? Is it an issue/problem? Or, is it an opportunity.

Check out this infographic below and then share me me your thoughts about texting and youth ministry. Share your thoughts here.

Text Messaging
Via: CellPhones.org

Question: What are your issues (or answers) related to texting in your youth ministry? What are you doing as a leader? Let’s learn from one another. Share your thoughts here.

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  • Chris

    I think texting can be an opportunity. However all good things must be done in moderation. Technology can never replace the power of face to face.

  • Amy

    I usually get good responses from texting, but recently I got a groups app on my iphone to let me text the different groups I regularly text. Out of a group of 10, I regularly get 2 responses. When one kid asked another if he had seen the texts about practice being canceled, he said he gets them but doesn’t read them because they “spam up his phone.” Argh! Communication in general just keeps getting harder!

    • dougfields

      yep… it’s becoming more difficult to communicate for clarity.

  • http://twitter.com/darrensutton Veteran YouthMin

    How do text massages work exactly? I don’t think I’m on that plan…. (#5) :)

  • http://twitter.com/ScottTinman ScottTinman

    Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr are all ways to connect with students…find that there needs to be multiple ways to communicate to students. Also have been using PollEverywhere in messages where you can get students to interact with teaching. Or to get students interacting with our Group Texting have giveaways…that will get responses. That $.50 candy bar may be worth it :) One way that we utilize our Group Texts is to have a group that wants a Bible verse texted to them each day which I have a volunteer leader that has taken on this ministry. Each Friday we have a Friday Challenge and kids to respond to that on a regular basis. Just ideas that we have used…agree that we need to use the technology available but also not be too sold out to it that it becomes more of our focus than investing into relationships that go beyond a screen…sitting at a coffee shop or drinking Pepsi at Taco Bell goes way further.

    • dougfields

      good… thanks Scott! (PS: Diet Pepsi at Taco Bell)

      • http://twitter.com/ScottTinman ScottTinman

        woops my bad…is that so you can get a Loco Taco too :)

  • Nate Sallee

    Similar to a lot of things, texting is not inherently all good or all bad. It is how it is used. In my experience it is becoming clearer and clearer that sexting as well as social media interaction as a whole has to be addressed by parents as soon as their children are using them. I feel like a lot of students don’t fully grasp how many people can potentially see their interactions such as a status/tweet. When it comes to questionable pictures, students need to realize that once it is sent, they are no longer in control of who sees it. It sounds like common sense but it is still hard for them to connect it in their minds to have that kind of foresight.

    • dougfields

      so true… it’s one of those things where I want to laugh “you really did that?”… but, the lack of wisdom is too sad to laugh at.

  • Matt Herron

    I try and utilize texting when communicating with students and sending them reminders about events and functions and all that stuff. The problem then with texting though is that students can/will text you anytime of the day. It can be hard not to text back. I try and stick my phone in my bedroom so that I am not distracted and I can focus on my family when I am at home. That is probably one of the biggest down falls of technology, you become too easy to get a hold of and that just causes more problems.

    • dougfields

      you’re right… its ‘s difficult to part from one’s phone.

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  • Brandon Pachey

    I used to use it to send out messages, but then our group got too big to keep up with, plus when and if numbers changed I wouldnt get notified, etc. I am sure there is a app for that, but I dont currently have a smart phone anyway as a volunteer youth worker, the church doesnt provide me anything along those lines either.

    We werent allowing them to use cell phones during church activities due to the distracton, however more and more use it for their bibles. Weve attempted to remind them that a hardcopy bible is handy in the event their phones die or are lost, but the numerous bible app’s still take over somehow. Not a huge deal here, most of them do actually pay attention to the bible app over texting during church.

    Hope this helps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberj1 Kimber Johnson

    I only use texting for individual check-in with kids. We use our FB group for most communication, events, random questions, ect. Most of our kids & leaders alike use an app on their phone to read the bible. I want to encourage this because of the note taking feature and they can highlight and save verses. The problem is those few kids that are texting what do you do?

    • dougfields

      it’s always the “few kids”… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that phrase in 30 years of youth ministry

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomas.reece.37 Thomas Reece

    I personally never text a student a 1on1 text. I also don’t allow my volunteers to text. The communication is flawed like any digital or print communication in that you can not convey emotions well. I feel like innocent texts like “Hope to see you tonight!” may come across in a way that makes some students feel uncomfortable because you cannot convey the emotion you intended. There also is real no accountability with private text messages. Conversations may start one way (encouragement to a student) and turn a completely different direction (student discussing sex life inappropriately). We need to use the same wisdom we’d have in our 1on1 interactions with students in person. Meaning we would never meet with a student in private behind closed doors or alone in our homes. We always meet in a public place (Starbucks McDonalds) or with our doors open so that people could see what is going on. All it takes is one accusation/rumor for your reputation to go out the window even if you are innocent or your volunteers are innocent. These rumors could potential cost you your calling (not saying it will but it could).
    I like using group messaging programs where all students get the same text messages, and so do their parents and my volunteers (accountability and continuity in communication). I have found the best way to communicate dates and events is to watch students program the date into their phones and hand outs to parents (for some reason they still like something printed out for the fridge). Texting is a slippery slope. As a guy in my mid 20′s I avoid it at all cost and have found other ways to communicate that work (which was a long and painful process). This is a subject I have thought a lot on and lost sleep over, because on one hand I want to be relevant and I want my volunteers to be relevant (I also want the students to think I’m cool). On the other hand, I want to protect my volunteers, protect my students, and protect myself.

    • dougfields

      Wow! You really have given this a lot of thought…good for you. I appreciate youth workers who think deeply about the why.

  • Brian Seidel

    I am right in the middle of this struggle within our ministry. we have tried several different text services and none have worked perfectly, still looking for one that has all the features I want without costing a lot. I still wonder how effective mass texting is though…seems like to actually reach them all you have to use 3 or 4 different methods. There are just too many options. As for texting during events, it has never been a huge problem but definitely an annoyance.

  • http://www.smarterym.com/ Aaron Helman

    In small groups, it’s easy enough to collect phones in some kind of basket and then redistribute them afterward. In large groups, the best solution we’ve found is to have an ample number of adult leaders scattered in the room to give students a nudge and “the look” when they catch them on their phones.

    But when those adults start texting…

    • dougfields

      that’s funny (when adults start texting)

      • http://www.smarterym.com/ Aaron Helman

        Funny, yes. But when I sit in big church, I’ll notice a few parents texting away, and it’s no wonder the students do. Modeled behavior and all.

        • dougfields

          yep… it’s an adult issue too.

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