You can never over-communicate with your Core Team, your pastor, the parish staff, other members of the youth staff, the teens, parents, etc. We kind of laugh about youth ministers and communication, but the truth is: if we want people on our side, we have to communicate more.
Letting people know that the youth group is having a lock-in helps people to prepare. The office secretary who answers the phone would like to know how to answer parent’s questions; the pastor should know in case he wants to make a visit and so he is not unaware you had to rush a teen to the hospital because he has sliced his hand open on the emergency exit sign (yes, speaking from experience).
Help the Secretary Help You
One of my biggest struggles when I first started in youth ministry was with the parish secretary. I’m not saying all parish secretaries are difficult to work with, but some of you may be able to sympathize. The phone system allowed us to easily transfer phone calls, but when someone would call for the youth ministry office, she would make them hang up and call our line directly – and would not give them the phone number first.
When I finally confronted her about it, she said she never knew what was going on and wouldn’t answer questions. That was my fault because I never sat down with her to alert her to an event and explain the process for turning in permission slips.
Most of us have so much going on in our ministries, we don’t always know if we are coming or going. Let me ask a couple of tough question: when your Core Team shows up to a Life Night or Edge Night, do they have to ask you lots of questions about the night? Does the parish secretary know the details of your upcoming event? How much notice do you give parents about an upcoming trip?
Making your voice heard
Youth ministry is not meant to be a one-person job. Yes, you may be the one that the pastor has appointed to be in charge of youth ministry, but you need the help and support of everyone in the parish. The best way to get that help: communication. If you want more time to do relational ministry with teens, communicate more with the parents, your Core Team, the pastor, etc. If your Core Team never seems to know what is happening during a Life Night or Edge Night, evaluate how you have been communicating with them and ask them if it has been effective.
Find the most effective ways to communicate with those you are serving with in ministry. Don’t assume that because you are on Twitter that everyone else is on Twitter as well (or that they even know how to use it). Most adults still use email for the majority of their digital communication while teens have moved on and mostly check their Facebook page.
If you are having an event, don’t just tell the parents; tell the parish staff as well. When parents call for more information, you want those answering the phones to be an advocate for you – they can only do that when they have the right information.
Get your information out sooner than the day before the event. My Core Team can tell you this is something I wasn’t always the best at doing. There were some Friday afternoons when I was sitting in my office, frantically trying to type up the schedule and notes for the upcoming Life Night on Sunday. The Core would show up uninformed and very confused. Thanks goodness they were willing to lovingly let me know they wanted more information in a timely manner.
What are some other important lessons have you learned about communication in your ministry?