Leave The Cell Phones On At Youth Group

The church seems to have this unspoken war on cell phones within the church walls. We always ask people to silence them, and most youth groups I know state that teenagers need to completely turn them off or leave them at home. But I want to actually push back on this and state that teenagers should leave their cell phones on at youth groups.

Below, we have a list of great ideas that would require teenagers to have their cell phones not only on, but out and used for youth group games and activities. Before we get to that, what is it that drives our need to turn off cell phones?

You could give the shallow “it’ll distract them from the service” excuse, but that treats teenagers as kids. Didn’t you just say that you expect them to share the Gospel as adults would? That you want to empower them to make huge decisions in youth group, or push for the youth group to be taken seriously by the congregation as a big part of the church body? Maybe we should stop treating them like kids too.

Let’s take a quick self-assessment while we are in the pulpit. Do we need to have eyes on us at all times, and that’s why we put away the cell phones? Are we ignorant to the community of people currently not attending church that may be reached via phone? Do we know how powerful images are of youth group that probably will only come from these teenagers’ cell phones? Can’t we let teenagers use phones to follow along in the Bible, take notes, and even go further with daily devotionals?

Tweet To Play

So many teenagers have smartphones that can connect to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts. Have one of your fun nights require that a teenager send out a photo tweet, Facebook image with friends and the ministry tagged, or an Instagram photo and using a hashtag or specific Facebook page wall to volunteer to join a game. You can then randomly select a couple of students to play any game, even an Instagram game we shared before.

Evangelize In The Youth Room

Maybe the best communication teenagers could do is post a youth ministry sermon quote, Bible verse, or some other shareable post while at youth group on Sunday or Wednesday night. If you go to camp in the summer, have students send out an invite right before the message to ask people to join them and reach an audience that is not even in your church. Can you imagine the possibilities of engaging with a whole community of non-church goers?

Use YouVersion

YouVersion has given churches the ability to come up with their own Reading Plans for devotionals. On top of that, you can now take notes via mobile devices. If you put together a 9 month curriculum and parallel it with 294 days of devotionals that the teenagers can read, you’ll go deeper than your ministry has ever gone before.

Phones have a possiblity of distraction, but they have as much of a possibility to communicate to a huge audience you aren’t reaching. What other ways have you seen cell phones be utilized well in youth group?

About Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith is a Christian first, husband and father next, and then a blogger, writer, and social media realist. He is currently working at Youth for Christ/USA as the Social Media Specialist and attending Denver Seminary for his Master's of Counseling in Mental Health. His bachelors degree is in Computer Engineering and Master's in Family Ministry. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for ten years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens.

Comments

  1. Joseph Beal says:

    I appreciated the post. Pocket technology is apparently not leaving us any time soon. This reminds me of the argument about talking during teaching times. As a teacher, and youth worker, I learned early that we can’t train kids to not talk, because they talk to be engaged. We can train them when to talk, and in many cases, with consistency and perseverance (and a few tough one on one conversations) they will be able to wait a few minutes and tune in to what we are saying. I’m thinking that the same is true for phone usage.

    Tell a kid “no,” and they hear “do.” Tell a kid “okay,” and the mystery/joy of rebellion dissipates. Thanks again for the post.

  2. Joseph Beal says:

    I appreciated the post. Pocket technology is apparently not leaving us any time soon. This reminds me of the argument about talking during teaching times. As a teacher, and youth worker, I learned early that we can’t train kids to not talk, because they talk to be engaged. We can train them when to talk, and in many cases, with consistency and perseverance (and a few tough one on one conversations) they will be able to wait a few minutes and tune in to what we are saying. I’m thinking that the same is true for phone usage.

    Tell a kid “no,” and they hear “do.” Tell a kid “okay,” and the mystery/joy of rebellion dissipates. Thanks again for the post.

  3. Quick Questions… Do you think the application of this differs from Jr. High to High School?

    1. kolby milton says:

      @facebook-91300526:disqus I think Jr.Highers need to be more engaged through their phones. It is one of the best ways for them to interact with the group. We are working on some strategies for the jr.highers next year with phones.

  4. Quick Questions… Do you think the application of this differs from Jr. High to High School?

    1. kolby milton says:

      @facebook-91300526:disqus I think Jr.Highers need to be more engaged through their phones. It is one of the best ways for them to interact with the group. We are working on some strategies for the jr.highers next year with phones.

  5. kolby milton says:

    Awesome post like always Jeremy. I wants students to be engaged during the service on their phones, and not checked out . I love it when a student tweets something I said, or a Bible verse that I preached on that night.

    1. I think an important part of this is teaching kids — and adults — how to best engage their cell phones in church. People are right when they say that cell phones can be a distraction. But if we teach people how they should use them, then people can do so in a way to enable them to be online evangelists for their own social circle.

  6. kolby milton says:

    Awesome post like always Jeremy. I wants students to be engaged during the service on their phones, and not checked out . I love it when a student tweets something I said, or a Bible verse that I preached on that night.

    1. I think an important part of this is teaching kids — and adults — how to best engage their cell phones in church. People are right when they say that cell phones can be a distraction. But if we teach people how they should use them, then people can do so in a way to enable them to be online evangelists for their own social circle.

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  9. David Porath says:

    I’m not against cell phones but the question that comes up in me is this: “Are we putting God first?” If you believe the only thing students are doing on their phone is tweeting your wisdom is plain naive. I don’t mind students having them in fun time but when it is time to dig in scripture, it is time to put up the phone and not let it compete with God for time.