In the modern age of digital technology, he who sends information the fastest usually wins. How are you using this technology in your ministry, if you are using it at all? Is it good or bad to incorporate your cellular number into the daily lives of those you minister? What are the benefits and disadvantages of updating and using cell phone technology?
The advantages of cell phone technology in the area of youth and family ministry are huge. Chances are most youth in your ministry all have a cell phone, and they know how to use it better and faster than you do. When you incorporate cell phone technology in your ministry, it can improve communication, provide up-to-date information, strengthen personal connections, and make your availability to youth and families transparent.
TEXT MESSAGING: There is more to text messaging than “j/k Lol. Kk, C U there.” Even on a very simple cell phone made within the last two years, the user can send text messages to any phone with text capability. In youth ministry single text messaging is a waste of time and efficiency when multiple messages can be sent to multiple contacts at once. On a simple cell phone, one can send multiple text messages to ten different numbers/contacts at once. Each ten person contact list can be saved and given a title such as “Youth A – F.” The information for upcoming events can now be shared faster with more youth in a single communication. So five ten person contact lists equals fifty youth and families informed in less than five minutes. Therefore, your cell phone becomes more efficient and effective than any youth director or secretary sending fifty emails or making fifty phone calls.
CALLING: Your cell phone can become a portable office for your ministry. Providing your personal cell phone number will grant a strong trust, credibility, and accountability in the relationship with youth and families needed to create effective ministry. In time not only the youth and families will know where and how to contact you, but your team of staff members and volunteers will know how to keep information moving from others to you or visa versa. Take the phone with you; change up your environment to reconnect with your creative side; trust me, people will call, and your office is now mobile.
PRECAUTIONS: Boundaries are a necessity when using cell phone technology in your ministry. Without establishing open and clear communication about when and where you will respond to your phone, one may find working around the clock an unnoticed reality. Responding selectively to what calls and messages you receive is a key component to keeping your personal time and professional time separated. This even includes powering down your phone when using the day or evening as time off. Remember one moment of communication will not necessarily resolve years, months, weeks, or even hours of crises, so avoid being drawn easily into conflicts with the open communication your cell phone provides.
Parents often tend to be left out of the information loop when the youth program uses cell phone technology over conventional information sharing. Although parents may use email and cell phones, more advanced communication and information sharing are not common place, therefore, providing an alternative communication method should be made available. An information letter covering upcoming youth events sent every two months avoids leaving out the most important people to support your youth ministry, the parents.
What is your cell phone’s style: Blackberry, iPhone, LG Chocolate, or just your standard clamshell? What are you doing with your phone: text messaging, information sharing, Internet browsing, or voicemail? The Gospel can be shared with the pressing of keys, creating words of comfort and safety on a screen, and sending them to a hurting or lost person on the other side of the phone. If you do not use your personal cell phone in your ministry, give it a try. After all, you decide what calls and messages deserve a response. There is no need to let your work and cell phone control your life. Personal spiritual care is a priority for any shepherd or overseer, which includes time spent alone, time with family, and time at peace with Christ in his word and worship. Sharing the Gospel is what we are called to do. Let us use any means possible with our younger brothers and sisters in Christ when sharing the Gospel.