Communication Confusion

We met with the web people yesterday to talk about updating our website, to make it a little more user friendly.  This made me think about how we communicate to our congregation.  As our congregation grows, as the way we communicate changes, it’s been a real challenge to be as a effective and efficient as possible.  The reason I say this is because we are at a point where people have multiple choices in how they communicate to one another; therefore, people have preferences.
On the application we handed out for confirmation we asked students to tell us how they prefer to be contacted: text, phone call or email.  The majority of them put text, next was phone call and last was email.  But the thing that struck me is that most of the students don’t have an email address.  How do they sign up for Facebook?  Through their parent’s accounts.  I remember 5 years ago it was difficult for me to send out emails to parents because some of them didn’t like it or use it, now everyone uses it to a point where my group emails are rejected due to spam filters.  So how do we communicate with people in the most effective manner?  I’m figuring that out, but this is what I’ve found as helpful.

For Parents:

  • Email is still key.  It’s the best way to just hit the masses and is the most accepted.
  • Texting I have found is emerging as more accepted form of communication with parents.  I recently signed up for Simply TXT an online application to send txt messages to a group of people.  This tech has been around for a while, but people are more likely to have their cell phones on them, then any other form of communication and while you can’t phone everyone, this is probably the quickest way to get a group of parent’s attention.
  • Phone Calls I use when I really need to talk to a parent.  When I really want to talk to a parent it’s to resolve an issue or tell them how great their student is.  But to be truthful, I’m not good at phone conversations.
  • Letter Writing is only good for formalities.  I can’t really tell you how many of these I’ve written in the last year to parents…probably one?

For Students:

  • Facebook is the quickest most personal contact.  It’s basically emailing them, but since you know they are on it so much, you can guarantee they’ll get it quicker than a regular email.
  • Texting is the most reliable.  Students are also more likely to respond.  If you are a youth pastor and you don’t have unlimited texting, you better get it.
  • Phone Calls are only for when I have no idea what a student is saying in a text message.  I admit I have not figured out all the abbreviations in a message…I’m behind the times.
  • Emails are used only when I’m telling a student that I’m sending an email because it has some kind of attachment that I need to send them.