Teenagers and young adults today are definitely more active online than any generation before. Most high school students carry cell phones to class, and most of those cell phones are smart phones. With the onslaught of major social media sites participating in smart phone applications, many students are expressing themselves online, and on their mobile devices. The trend of the generation is a ‘tell it like it is’ philosophy—without any regard to what may be appropriate.
Youth Ministers today are faced with a very extreme challenge. Forming effective ministries that draw the hearts of this generation into a honest and loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Its obvious by the success of such social media platforms like To Write Love On Her Arms that there is a need for ministry online. Thousands of people worldwide interact on To Write Love On Her Arms’ Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter pages sharing their struggles with drugs, sex, addiction, suicide, and family issues. Fortunately for the church this organization is founded in Christian principles, but what about the other places youth share their personal struggles and issues? Unlike To Write Love On Her Arms, many online communities do not value the hearts of our youth and definitely do not help to protect their identities when sharing information online.
If anything at all local churches should encourage their youth to interact with their youth ministers and pastors on these social media platforms. This generation of youth is very forth coming with their issues, and as a church body we should be the first outlet that these youth connect with online. As ministers there must be a sense of urgency in protecting youth from the potential harm that can come from sharing personal information and issues with the wrong people or websites online.
Did you know?
“Many teens are unconcerned about the dangers of sharing personal info online.
- A majority of teens (58%) do not think posting photos or other personal info on social networking sites is unsafe. They should read the news.
- Nearly half of teens (47%) are not worried about others using their personal info in ways they do not want (although that represents a 10-percentage-point improvement over 2006). About half (49%) are unconcerned posting personal info online might negatively affect their future. (Most employers now do a search for their prospective employees. With some of the information and pictures I have found on MySpace, they should be concerned.)”
The question: ‘Should Youth Ministers Be Available On Facebook?’
The answer: YES! YES! YES! YES!
If you are wanting to reach the youth in your community on their level–where they interact and share information– you are going to have be available for a chat session via Facebook, or following the conversations taking place on Twitter & Myspace. This means opening up your social media accounts and your hearts to let them in—build the relationship on their terms, and let them know that you really care!