I’d like to say that when I was a student in Youth Group, I always relayed pertinent information back to my parents. I mean, I never missed any events and I always knew what was going on… but if I’m honest, more of that probably had to do with my Dad being the Pastor and already having all of the information.
But out of that, it was easy for me to fall into the trap early on in ministry that if a student got a piece of paper with important announcements, surely this slip of paper would make it into the hands of their parents before the end of the night. I think a lot of times we as Youth Pastors hope this to be the case and we trust students with the information, assuming that they are independent and fully capable of taking care of such a simple task.
But they rarely are able to relay important information. And when we assume they are, ministry suffers.
One time I handed out calendars for the next few months at the door as students were leaving. I gave one to a kid whose mom had parked literally 10 feet from the door; he got the calendar, walked right out the door to the car, got in, and lost it. I didn’t see him lose it, but his Mom never got it, and they couldn’t find it in the van, his room, his clothes, anywhere… It was just gone.
To this day, I have no idea what in the world happened.
I’ve learned a lot about communicating with parents since then and I still am learning, almost every week, how to better keep parents in the loop; not just with dates, but with purpose, vision, and ideals.
I won’t say I’ve discovered any key to this; but what I am reminded of, and am sure you sometimes need to be reminded of as well, is the basic fact and truth that in Youth Ministry the key to good communication is to over-communicate.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate, and then Communicate some more.
We have a few events coming up in the next few weeks that I know our students all know about, but how many of their parents know? How many of their parents know why we are doing them? What’s expected of their students? What’s the cost? Can their students can bring friends?
And something I’ve caught myself saying in the past, and maybe you have too, is that it’s ridiculous for me to have to send out an email about every event, and then write a post on the student ministry website about it, and then post it on Facebook, and then post it on Instagram, and then make hand-out flyers…just to communicate that next Wednesday we are having ice cream on a different part of the campus.
But here are a few things that I have come to rest in for communication in Student Ministry:
1 – I’ll never regret over-communicating, but I will almost always regret communicating poorly.
2 – The ministry will be better if I can pass this off to someone else. It might take more work to get everything prepared for them to make all the emails, blog posts, Instagram images, etc.; but that will just force me to have a more organized event, which in the end, will turn out better.
3 – The reality is that it probably takes less than an hour to over-communicate. Is it worth an hour a week to ensure that all of our students and their parents are going to be aware of what’s going on next week so that they can come, know where to go, not be left out of the loop, and not feel like I don’t care about them? If I ever find myself answering “no” to that question, I only hope it’s because I’m resigning ministry.
So what are your thoughts on communication in Youth Ministry? Would you agree that, for the most part, Youth Pastors are poor communicators? Why do you think students fail to relay information, and how can we help them with that?