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Yeah, I know, email is pretty outdated for teens, but parents still use it.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 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:

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

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