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Why I don’t make announcements at youth group

I also don’t give info on to other teachers to pass along to their small groups or classes. Other youth groups communicate updates every week and that’s fine for them, but I just choose not to because that “info download” time can take place just as easily (and more effectively) through a variety of other means. I don’t like to take time away from our lesson, games, worship and fun time together for it. So, here’s how I communicate news and announcements to my group.

Our website:
About once or twice a week I post all the latest news, info and announcements on the front page of our youth group website. That way, every time kids or parents visit the site it’s right there in front of them with direct links to everything they need, like a sign-up page or form download. (Details about our site here.)

Email list:
Yeah, I know, email is pretty outdated for teens, but parents still use it. When I post new information on the front page of our website, it automatically generates an email that sends the new post to our mailing list (using Feedblitz).

Facebook group:
It’s hard to fit all the news for the week into a mass private message to everyone in our Facebook group since it can tend to be pretty long. So, instead I briefly cover the highlights and super-important items and include a link back to the more comprehensive post on our website for more information.

Txt message list:
Having a txt message list is an invaluable tool for us, especially because it allows us to change event details at the last minute and communicate it with everyone in a matter of seconds, regardless of whether they’re in front of a computer or not. It’s also great for brief reminders. (I use TxtSignal.com and highly recommend them.)

Bulletin insert:
Of course, there’s always visitors to our church and people who don’t use the Internet, email or txt messaging, so we take the news I post to the website and print it out as a bulletin insert each week. It’s helpful for parents and guests to have in-hand each week and serves as a flyer for kids to hand out to friends.

Basically, I type the announcements once and it’s distributed in a variety of ways. Granted, it sometimes takes some time to re-train people who are used to having info spoon-fed to them, but overall it makes them more responsible to stay up-to-date and it sure makes my life a lot simpler.

Some past ideas I’ve used that don’t work too well anymore:

AIM:
I created an AOL Instant Messenger screen name for our youth group, left it online 24/7 in the church office, and put announcements in the away message for kids to check whenever they’re online. It was fun for a little while, but eventually kids stopped using it because they got used to seeing it in their buddy lists all the time.

Skype-in hotline:
Everyone’s thought of having a call-in hotline where people can listen to a recording of the latest announcement low-down, but it can be expensive to have a dedicated line for it, so I purchased a Skype-In number, which is significantly cheaper. No one really used it, though. Kids aren’t excited about me rattling off news at them during youth group so they rarely take the initiative to hear it on purpose.

Phone calls:
Although this is by far the best option available if you only have to contact a couple students, it’s a nightmare for anything more than 20 kids. You leave messages that aren’t passed on and it’s not very time efficient (in a good way, though). On the flip side, it’s an excellent way to connect with parents if they answer when you call their kid.


Posted on April 2, 2008

  • Thanks for this post, Tim! I really like some of these ideas.

    I think it’s important to communicate in a wide variety of ways, whether that’s a time of announcements, tying an event into your current series, or managing a website. The more we broadcast things, the more buy-in we get!

    I don’t think we’ll be stopping our Sunday morning announcements anytime soon, but we’re always looking for ways to make them fun and creative!

  • Yeah, there’s certainly nothing wrong with making announcements every week. I just choose not to because the methods above are sufficient for us and it leaves more time for teaching, that’s all.

  • I would totally agree. It seems as if you tell kids and by the end of the lesson..they have already forgotten. We stick to a newsletter that is mailed to parents/students. Thats the “norm” of communication for us.

  • You forgot another method that doesn’t work: handouts given to the students. Unless, of course, you want your youth room floor covered in paper and no information getting back to the parents. Then handouts work wonderfully!

    Great post!

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  • @ Brandon: I actually only tried flyer handouts like once or twice for the very reasons you mentioned, so it didn’t even make the list.

  • Tim,
    Very good post. Our methods of presenting information (and biblical truth, for that matter) changes as the culture changes.
    How much time would you say is spent managing your website and giving out announcements? And how does that effect the tone and style of your Youth Group (or does keep the paper airplanes to a minimum?) And what kind of success have you experienced as a result?

  • @ Ben: I put a lot of initial work into building the website, but now that it’s up, maintenance is pretty low. Once the announcements are typed up, it takes about 30 seconds to copy and paste it to the website.

    I love the tone it builds at youth meetings because there’s no advertisements! It’s all about building relationships, having fun, worship and spiritual growth. It all flows so much nicer without interrupting it with announcements and flyers that get lost and left behind.

    Success was spotty when I first came to the church, but now people are trained and it works great. There were some who didn’t care for the emails and wanted the phone calls instead, but I pretty much told them, “No, I’m not making 200-some phone calls with announcements every week. Here’s where you can find the information you want and that’s the way it is.” People can take personal responsibility for this stuff sometimes, ya know?

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  • Hey Tim, have you tried using media/video for announcements? It can also serve as filler or Video of the Week kinda stuff that entertains, and also (to a lesser degree) informs students. You can post it on the website or facebook as well…stuff like Action Figure Theatre, Strangers on the Street, Voice-Overs, etc…work well for our group…it onvolves more work, but we get students involved, grab laughs…and get creative all at the same time

  • @ Shawn McKight: Yeah, I’ve done video announcements before, but I’m not convinced it’s worth the time it requires from me and I currently don’t have any volunteers or students who could do something like that.

    Here’s my video announcement from our ski trip last winter.

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