During my days in youth ministry, I learned a lot of valuable lessons….mostly from my own mistakes! One of those was under communicating all that so many needed to know. So, having learned from those mistakes, I want to take the next few minutes and share with you a few tech tool that can help you to avoid making my same mistakes….and guess what? They are all free.
Imagine this scenario – you have ten teens that are all texting you asking for information on the next event and you are doing your best to answer back to every one of them. Then a parent calls and said she never received the church email. Then an elder calls you and says a few parents talked to him after worship about the upcoming event, and he didn’t know the information either. Then a parent finds you right before worship wanting to sign up her kid and wants to know if it’s too late….its too late by like a week. You tell her this, and she said she never got the information! Why are you punishing her kid because you couldn’t communicate clearly?!
But wait….you did! You see, you answered every text, announced it from the pulpit, announced it in Bible class. EVERY. WEEK. And it was even printed in the bulletin. You did everything you could think of! How is it that you seem to always find yourself in this situation? Well….I’ve been there, and the frustration is real. For realsies.
So, what tools have I learned to use over the past years that help me communicate clearly, track that communication, and improve on everyone’s understanding? Two key items….
- Remind.com – super cool and super easy. It goes like this. You go and sign up and become a “teacher.” This was originally designed for teachers and students, but it works just as well for a youth minister and teens. It is basically a “group” text-messaging service – for free. The greatest part about it is that people can add themselves and remove themselves at any time without you having to do anything. The great part of this is that you can also create different groups for different people – parents, teens, high school, middle school, seniors, juniors, etc. – why is this great? So you don’t annoy everyone with information for only specific people! This is also a great tool because it goes directly to the one tool MOST adults and teens alike use – their phones.
- MailChimp – This is a must for one reason alone – tracking who opens and reads your emails and who received your emails. As a youth minister, I used to email out every Tuesday important information to all the parents and teens about upcoming events, registration deadlines, payments, education, etc…..and for years I would hear the words, “I never received the email…” and I had no way to see if they did or if they just overlooked it! With MailChimp, you can create a beautiful template (also a HUGE plus) and track every opened email and response. It is a lifesaver when it comes to “yes, you did receive the email….you just didn’t read it.” It will save you a ton of heartache and confusion if you can see who has, who hasn’t, and who just isn’t reading their emails….and that’s not your fault! J
All in all, it comes down to this – as ministers, we should do our best to communicate clearly and communicate in ways that people will actually understand. A bulletin is great but very few teens read those – parents may, but a teen most likely will not. So, are you communicating clearly? Are you doing everything you can to track who is opening emails, if you are getting the information out to the right people, or if anyone is even hearing anything at all?
Communicate better. Invest your time in ways that work – try remind.com and Mailchimp.
For me, they were life savers….and job savers!