How we used Google Wave at youth group

How we used Google Wave at youth groupYesterday I wrote about how new technology becomes a ministry tool and mentioned how that’s happening for Google Wave right now. This post is not intended to explain what Google Wave is or how it works — there are plenty of posts and videos around the web that already explain that. My point here is simply to give an example of how we’ve been using it for personal use until last Sunday night at youth group when it became the most logical solution for ministry use. There are probably other ways to accomplish what we wanted to do besides using Google Wave, like good ol’ pen and paper, but this worked best for our situation.

We just finished up a series with our high school students based on NewSpring’s, “Don’t get married until…” series and wanted to end it with an anonymous conversation between the guys and the girls. The idea was to split the girls and guys into separate rooms and write a list of questions they wanted the opposite gender to answer. We would swap lists, write down answers in our groups for the other gender, and then send the answer sheet back to the other gender to read and discuss.

That sounded good except for the time it would take to run back and forth and the time of writing out all the answers when we could instead be discussing and talking. So, my wife had the idea of using Google Wave to collaborate instead. Here’s what we did:

I went in the room with the guys and my wife went with the girls. We both took our Macbooks, connected to our church’s wifi, and started two Waves, one titled, “Guys questions for the girls,” and another called, “Girls questions for the guys.” We gave each group about 10 or 15 minutes to list their questions in order of highest priority to least (to ensure we addressed their top questions first before we ran out of time). We each listed our group’s questions in the appropriate Wave. Then we switched Waves and started reading the other group’s questions aloud and typed our group’s responses. At that point all the teens really started digging it! In the guy group, after answering some of the girls’ questions, we hopped back to our origional Wave to read how the girls were responding to our questions. We posted our follow-up questions, added other comments, and then went back to answering more girl questions. It was serously a lot of fun!

The guys and girls had a great open and honest “conversation” with each other, feeling safe to ask anything without risk of embarassment or knowing who was saying or asking what.

Since this is a bit hard to explain, especially if you’re not familiar with Google Wave, here’s a screenshot of part of the girls’ Wave and part of the guys’ Wave.

Guys Wave QuestionsGirls Wave Questions

The cool thing about this that I didn’t anticipate was that the teens wanted to continue the conversation online even after youth group ended. So I gave away a bunch of Wave invites to the students and added them to the Wave as soon as they were accepted. It’ll be interesting to see if and how the Waves that started at youth group continue throughout the week. It might be a good follow-up tool or “for further discussion” type of things?

The teens really want to do it again sometime, so I probably will when it’s appropriate for other discussions in the future.

P.S. Speaking of technology, I just wrote yesterdays and today’s entire blog posts on my cell phone, the new Motorola Droid. Who even needs a computer anymore?

Posted on December 16, 2009

  • Great stuff TIm! I'll just add that I need a computer because rendering video on a phone could take a while :-)

    • Yeah, I needed my computer to create the logo image and take a screenshot of the Waves, too. :)

  • GG-Mom B

    WHEW !! "Ain't" technology GREAT !! Sounds like you hit an artery in the kids!! Power to you..

  • Cool. We might steal that idea this spring.

    Is there a great, concise tutorial (whether text or, say, a 15 minute video) on the web about using Google Wave? Not the whole manual, just the important things to know.

    • A quick Google search will show a lot of results that summarize and explain how to use Google Wave and what it does. There's also a tutorial that includes videos when you first sign in to Google Wave.

  • Sweet! Sounds like things went really well. Thanks for sharing.

    I have had my Wave for a month now and have not used it.

  • You are so darn innovative – ahead of all of us. slow down so we can keep up!

    –Terrace Crawford

  • Great idea!! Wish I could've been there! : D

  • Great idea! I'm always looking for ways to utilize technology for our youth ministry to help with communication, etc.

  • That's crazy innovative Tim, Nice idea. I wonder if there's a way to take it another step with the anononymity? Even the guys giving you the answers, filters out the sincerity of it all. The guys in your group sounds exactly like…well…you, lol.

    I'm sure you have to safe-guard the line of communication, but I think it would be even more amazing to have the guys send the answers to you anonymously, and you filter them out and send the stuff to the girls.

    Either way, I'm nit-picking – you're one of the most creative leaders I know. Fantastic!

    • Yeah, we told the group at the very beginning before we split up that Dana and I would type whatever they say, not type what we think. In fact, with the guys, I always read to them exactly what I typed before I clicked "done" to make sure we were in agreement and that it adequately communicated what we were all trying to say. So, I promise Dana and I didn't just sit down and write only our own thoughts back to the other gender. :)

      Obviously, the responses on the Wave are no longer anonymous now that kids have been added to it for further discussion, but I don't think that those who are on it care any longer.

      • Yeah, I read what I was typing back to the girls before clicking done too. That way I could word it how they wanted to relate their answer or response.

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  • Brent

    using this idea tonight, looking forward to seeing how it goes

  • Jonathan

    This is awesome! Thanks for the idea Tim!

  • Great use of Wave. I've been using it for a little while for collaboration with others on a Opensource web project, recently sent my personal e-mail an invite so I could start looking at uses outside that, and didn't want to use my "business" account for other uses.

  • How does one get an invite? Interested in using it in Feb for a series on battle of the sexes. this would be perfect

    • I have a couple invites left. Send me your gmail address and I'll hook you up.

  • Tim, I am contemplating doing this series with my youth group. How did you download the videos from NewSpring Community Church? Thanks!

  • I downloaded the videos through their iTunes podcast and used them that way.

  • Linda

    What a great idea! I would love to use this with our youth group but I can’t get Google Wave without an invite. Anyone have it and willing to send me an invite so we can do it?

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