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The Problem? With Social Media in Youth Ministry..

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I've just read the following on a site called and I found myself totally disagreeing with it...

We view social networks differently than youth view them and for a few more years this will be the case, as youth pastors didn't grow up with social media the way our youth have.

My interest has been piqued by the recent upsurge in youth ministry blogs talking about using social media in youth ministry. I feel like I could point you to at least ten posts in the last three weeks dealing with this topic, and I have to say, I am disappointed.

Firstly, I am disappointed because along with this upsurge in social media posts on youth ministry sites, it seems to be a symptom of a problem with youth ministry blogs, many are getting away from youth ministry and getting into less important matters. It feels like in order to have a successful "Youth Ministry" blog, you have to give things away, point others to freebies, and not talk much at all about youth ministry, but rather just add to the bottom of a post "Wouldn't this be great to use in youth ministry?"

Secondly, I am disappointed because many articles I have read go about "Social Media" in a completely wrong manner. Let me ask you this, "when was the last time you heard a student in your youth group say We should connect using social media?"

This chap means well, I'm sure, and it's important to remind ourselves that when we disagree it is always with a mind to being friendly, charitable and hopefully to creating an engaging, growthful debate.

That said though, I really disagree with these sentiments for a few reasons. Firstly, there is a huge range of stuff that might be interesting or useful to youth ministers - both in their work and in their formation, their faith, their lives - and sometimes when you run a big site you find yourself sticking loads of stuff up with a quick line at the end about how it might be useful in youth ministry. You do so because it actually might be useful. You also do it because you might be a little too busy to spend three paragraphs explaining exactly how it might be useful. Sometimes it's good to set people thinking.

Secondly "when was the last time you heard a student in your youth group say We should connect using social media?"

Answer: Yesterday, and the day before that. And the day before that too. I run a youth Mass for which the only way young people have of connecting is through Facebook. I have been involved in World Youth Day groups and Lourdes groups for which the best way of getting to know one another, swapping photos, arranging reunions and so many other things is through Facebook.

Social Media matters. A lot.

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