The sun beats down. Neighborhood pools are open. Families are taking trips to the beach so they can all take a picture wearing white shirts together. Summer is an interesting time for student ministry. While some of the biggest events we have like camp, mission trips, or leader training all take place in this season, it’s also a time when people are scarce. Attendance tends to drop. Sports and other extra-curricular activities can minimize the ministry in some of your students’ lives. So how do you deal with this season? What are some ways to make the best of it while building and discipling the students in your church? Hot Summer is a series designed to help focus in on the challenges of this season and provide some helpful insight. This week we take a look at communication. While always critical, summer is a season in which communication is even more vital than other times of the year. With vacations and major events, your people need to know what’s up as much as possible. Here are a few ways you can communicate for greater impact in the summer time…
- See the big picture. As you plan your emails, texts, FB posts, and announcements during the summer, make sure you have the full picture. Poor communication can be frustrating for you and the people receiving it when it looks like you don’t know what’s going on outside of your student ministry plans. Don’t push a major initiative one week, then push another one the next week. Consolidate for better and clearer communication. Additionally, if the church has a church-wide event planned, like say a 4th of July celebration, keep that in mind as you communicate. The whole family may want to attend the church-wide event and that might have implications for your student ministry plans and vice versa. No matter what your plans are, keep the whole family in mind. This will help your summer communication be clear and helpful for the people you serve.
- Over-communicate. Sometimes we get too worried about sending that third reminder about camp or that second tweet about Student Worship. Don’t be worried about it. You aren’t a telemarketing company trying to sell a product. Yes, too many calls and emails can be annoying in certain contexts, but you are talking to family. For some you will never communicate enough. For others, you will over-communicate with just one message. The key is to ensure you have said what needs to be said clearly and frequently. For people who don’t want your reminders, you probably couldn’t make them happy no matter what. Go ahead and err on the side of saying it to often than not saying it enough.
- Vary your communication. Don’t be the person who only communicates when you want something. Recruiting leaders, pushing for a sign-up deadline, and a service reminder are all important and necessary points of communication. But they aren’t the only ones. How about a quote from last week’s message? Or from the one coming up? An encouragement to your students and/or your leaders? A link to a helpful, funny, or poignant video? A picture of the ministry in action? Share more than just your needs and reminders or your communication will be reduced to noise that most ignore.
- Track your communication. Look back each week and see what your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other means of communication looks like. Are you being clear? Does it focus too much on asking rather than encouraging? Have you communicated all of the important things you need to communicate? Does it make sense? Now put yourself in the shoes of a typical family who will balance summer activities like camp, vacation, relaxing, and serving. Does your communication fit your audience? Track what you are saying and how you are saying it to maximize your communication for effectiveness.
Summer can be a challenge for ministry when communication isn’t clear and concise. But it doesn’t have to be. Take the steps to make sure you are communicating well with your people and your Hot Summer will be a tad cooler. And don’t forget to spend some time hanging with your family enjoying a sno-cone or three.
This post was written by Chris Swain, Director of LifeWay Student Publishing