I love and despise my phone. It connects me and owns me at the same time. I’m constantly learning best practices for me, my family and my ministry.
Mobile devices aren’t going anywhere. Every year it seems like the age gets younger and younger when a teen get his or her first phone. While more and more of the next generation get their hands on a mobile device you have to wonder:
IS THIS A PROBLEM?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know yet. My mind isn’t made up on the issue. There is still a lot to be discovered about it’s long term impact. We do know that it can be a distraction. We do know that it gives us instant access to information, sharing photos and making mistakes.
With a lot to be discovered it’s caused some youth ministries to embrace them while others ban them. I’ve heard great arguments for both sides and while I can appreciate both sides I do know that no matter your stance it’s important to embrace these 4 Best Practices:
BEST PRACTICE #1: ESTABLISH CLEAR RULES AND BOUNDARIES
No matter what you decide to do you need to make sure all parties (Parents, ministers, and teenagers) are aware of what you expect. You can communicate these boundaries:
- Through an email.
- Make them available on the website.
- Once in a while remind the teens in a large group setting.
The rules will still get broken; however, it will create a clear dialogue on how to move through the situation.
BEST PRACTICE #2: DO THE RESEARCH
Mobile devices aren’t all negative. There are apps, and strategies that can enhance your program. Games, social media and communication tools will help your ministry become more engaging and efficient.
But, before you utilize any of the incredible resources available do the research. Talk to other youth workers and ask them if they’ve used those same tools. Make sure you think about the short and long term impact it could have on your ministry.
BEST PRACTICE #3: EDUCATE AND EQUIP PARENTS
Work with your children’s minister about hosting a night where an expert on online safety and technology can come in to talk with parents. Make sure parents know how to talk to their kids about to utilize technology in a healthy manner.
Not only will you be equipping parents to make better decisions but you’ll earn their trust. They’ll see you as someone they can go to when it comes to navigating a quickly growing frontier.
BEST PRACTICE #4: KEEP THE CONVERSATION ROLLING
Because technology is rapidly changing so do the rules, and strategies you’ve established. Keep the conversation rolling with parents, ministers, teenagers and your church leadership.
It’s also important to keep the conversation rolling with other youth ministers and that’s why I encourage you to join me Thursday August 25th at 3:45pmEST for a special #MYMCHAT on our Facebook page Marathon Youth Ministry.
You can email your questions and thoughts ahead of time to email@example.com.
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