This is a transcript of the video “Let’s Talk About Communication: COVID-19 Resources.”
Hey, my name’s Spencer Jones.
I’m the high school minister over at First Baptist Trussville. It’s great to be with you guys today. So a little bit about me. I’ve just moved over to First Baptist Trussville about a year ago from Houston, Texas, but grew up in Auburn, Alabama, so Auburn is home for me, but I’m now living in Birmingham and we now have a brand new baby girl, so the timing was perfect.
That’s a little bit about me, but wanted to talk to you guys today about communication in your organization. All of us have different types of sized organizations, but I think the one thing that stays the same is that communication has to be what? Key and crucial. That’s what it is. Communication is critical in every aspect of your ministry.
Now, I know that with communication, we’ve always heard that whenever it comes to relationships, communication is key. And with that being true, I think that the thing we need to take away from all of this is that communication is not only key, but it’s critical, and consistency in communication is key. And so first off, there’s three different ways that we communicate. Three different platforms of communicating as student pastors.
Communicating with Your Team
The first is this, it’s our team. The team you have around you right now. For me, we have a middle school guy, a girl’s minister, and an assistant who also helps us with all kinds of things. So for us, we all have to be on the same page. Not only that, but you need to make sure that your pastor, your executive pastor, the people that are above you or around you, know what is happening in your student ministry.
It’s easy to get siloed off and to doing your own thing, and before you know it, you don’t even know what the rest of the church is doing because you’re so focused on what you’re doing. So communication with your team, making sure that, one, your vision is the same across the board. Making sure that you know.
For us it’s to connect people to Jesus and for them to be able to go out from there in relationships with each other. And so you’ve got to make sure that you know what your vision is and what’s you’re operating out of, so that the things that you do will come back and be fruitful.
Communicating with Your Parents
And so with that, not only is your team something you have to think about, but then obviously your parents. We student pastors know that our job is not to be the chief discipler of that student, but it’s to come alongside their parents as they are the chief disciplers of that student. Now, this is a lot easier said than done. We all know that. It’s so much easier to say that than actually do it. But with that, how do we come along parents? How do we come up to parents and help them with this process?
The first thing I think is communication with them, letting them know what is happening in the student ministry that you’re involved in. For awhile we played with the idea of, I would do like one email a month, one or two emails a month, and maybe a video email of some sort. And my thought process is, well, I don’t want to bother them with another email because they’re already overwhelmed with lots of junk emails and that kind of stuff, and that is true, they are overwhelmed with lots of emails, but I think that us as student pastors, making sure that our parents know what is happening in the student ministry, is crucial.
Why? Because, one, it gives you credibility as a youth pastor saying, “Hey, I didn’t just plan this event at the spur of the moment. This is something we’ve been planning out for a while.” With that being said, we try to plan our events out pretty good far in advance, about six months to a year in advance, depending on what the event is.
Now, we do leave flexibility for other small events here and there of course, but I’m talking about like disciple now, beach camp, your other camps, fall retreats, whatever you do, making sure that parents know those dates so far in advance that there is no excuse for, “Hey, we accidentally planned a vacation on that weekend.” No, as far as you can plan in advance is crucial. So how do you do that?
One, it goes back to making sure you are planning and communicating with your team and that you’re sitting down and getting everything squared away. For us, we calendar a date that we will plan everything for the year. That way we can get it in writing, then we can get it on the church calendar, it can get approved and then we can start making things to send out to people to let them know what’s coming up.
So yes, letting your parents … Back to your parents. Letting your parents know what is coming up in your student ministry is crucial for communication.
The second thing is it gives the parents, it gives the parents, one, a contact with you each week. Now, it’s their choice if they want to put you in the junk mail, but you cannot be told that you weren’t trying to give them the information that they need. We all know those parents and the students who doesn’t matter how many times you say something or send out emails or post anything about it, you’ll be like a deer in headlights when they hear you talk about it. They’ll be like, “Huh, what is that?” And I’ll be like, “You need to read your email.” We’ve all been there, right?
Well, what this does is it also takes the load off of us letting the parents say, “Hey,” so that we can tell the parents, “Hey, we sent that in the email for the past few months. I’m going to go back, check your email, if you’re not getting that, we can put you on that email list.” So letting the parents know why, what’s important, what’s going on in your student ministry, giving them those extra resources as well. This helps you keep consistency with them.
So for me, for our ministry, we’ve kind of found out that Tuesday is the best day for us to send our emails. Why? Monday morning, everybody’s swamped, stressed with answering emails, applying to stuff, and so you get deleted real easy. Tuesday afternoon seems to be a time that people have kind of, okay, they got their busy work emails and it’s a little bit lighter. So this also gives us time as student pastors to know if you haven’t prepared your sermon ahead of time, which hopefully you have, but this gives us time to be able to promote what we’re going to talk about that Wednesday night in our parent email.
We also … Let me back up, I forgot one thing on the team members aspect, when we were talking with our team. We meet on Mondays to discuss, okay, what tasks do I need to do this week? What tasks do you need to do this week and how can we help each other with those tasks? What things do we have coming on the horizon that we need to start working on slowly? And that way we can get a big picture of what is around us and what is coming up. And you’re, once again, working as a team, you’re communicating as a team.
Communicating with Your Students
So with that whole parents being the big thing, we’ve got to stay consistent with the final aspect, which should be hopefully the easiest aspect for us, is the students, communication with our students. I think that if you have good communication with your team, good communication with the parents, then good communication with the students will come naturally, because their parents are also reinforcing whatever you are trying to communicate.
Now, with the students, we use a couple of different platforms. I know one we use is Group Meet, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with that. Another that we use, which the school system has been using, is Remind. We found that Remind is super helpful for us because we can categorize by grade and gender. So I can go through and send out a message saying, “Hey, follow us on this website here.” Or, “Hey, check out this article here,” and I can send it to specific grades at specific times.
You’re able to schedule out your text messages that same way, and there’s no limit as far as how many students you can put in that. I say that, I have not reached a limit that you could put it in the students yet. And so it’s a great, great platform and it’s free. I’m all about the free life. So make sure that if you haven’t checked out or if you don’t have a method that you’re communicating with, that’s a great method.
And then obviously when it comes to students, the most important and the basic ones you can do, is one, reaching out to them via the phone call, via text message or even just going over to their house, checking in with them and their parents and say, “Hey, how’s it going with you?” Those types of things mean the world to kids, they don’t really care how much you know until you know how much you care. That saying is so true over and over again in student ministry.
And so with us making sure that we are consistent in our communication to the team, to the parents and to the students, this will eventually give us that consistency and that consistency will build trust within your ministry, among you and your parents. So hopefully if you guys haven’t started any type of email or any type of different type of way to communicate with your parents, I encourage you to start doing that.
We right now use something called Touchpoint. That’s just our church database that we use and I formulate the emails, the emails come from me, so it doesn’t look like it’s just a stock email account. I know people use MailChimp, I’m sure. I forgot the other ones that the people are using now, but whatever you use, if it’s working for you, keep doing it and keep making sure that you’re in touch with your parents.
So hopefully this has helped you a little bit. That’s how we communicate. That’s how we found best to communicate. Now, I’m not saying that I know everything about communication, because my wife would be the first one to tell you, that’s false. And so there’s lots of things that I know I’m leaving out, I’m sure as far as good key tips to communication.
But if you have something, I’d love to hear, like what you do for communication, they might help me in our student ministry here as well. So hopefully this will help you, but remember that communicating with your team, plus your parents and your students will give you consistency and that consistency will build trust. Have a great day and I appreciate you watching this video.