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Slide Notes

Here's a little blog I decided to create visually with Haiku Deck. It tells a little of how we communicate with families in our seventh-eighth grade ministry called seventy8 at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana.
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Communicating In Middle School Ministry

Published on Nov 19, 2015

A short explanation of the methods and philosophy of communication in seventy8, the seventh and eighth grade student ministry of Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana.

PRESENTATION OUTLINE

COMMUNICATING

IN MIDDLE SCHOOL MINISTRY
Here's a little blog I decided to create visually with Haiku Deck. It tells a little of how we communicate with families in our seventh-eighth grade ministry called seventy8 at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana.
Photo by Stéfan

PENTECOST

EVERY LANGUAGE HEARD & UNDERSTOOD THE MESSAGE
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit gave the Disciples the ability to speak in languages they had never learned. It sounds a little crazy, but it was a great plan. They were able to all share the same message and everyone who was there could hear it in a language they understood!

In a similar way, we want to use a large variety of communication tools so that what we are communicating will be heard and understood by as many families as possible in whichever communication method they use most.

COMMON GROUND

1 CORINTHIANS 9:22 (NEW LIVING TRANSLATION)
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22, that he does basically whatever he can so the most amount of people possible will understand the message he has to share.

We definitely do not use every method that is out there, but we do use a variety.

And with each tool, we strive to learn all we can on how that tool works best so that those who use it will benefit from it, and not just see one message copied and pasted into various formats.

PLAN

THERE IS A
Trying to use different communication methods on a regular basis would drive anyone crazy without a plan.

So we setup a plan that works on a repeating weekly basis.

We send out different messages each day. Some are sent live. While others we schedule ahead of time. Our tool of choice is HootSuite.
Photo by shamus00

PHONE

I would rather use just about any communication method except the phone. It's hard to find a good time to call. You can't see the person's expression or body language. And it just feels slow and awkward to me.

However, that being said, sometimes things can be communicated much more clearly in a conversation than with one-way communication. Outside of meeting with someone in person, nothing beats a phone call.
Photo by gelle.dk

INFOCARDS

Our communications team at church has gone to using simple cards that are about 3.5 inches wide and 8.5 inches tall. (Think six per one tabloid sheet in landscape or horizontal.)

These are easy to grab with enough room for concise text and graphics. Each one includes contact information on the front to find out more details or get questions answered.

They are easy to hand out and fit perfectly in a legal-sized envelope for mailings. We use these for everything from event promotion to seasonal calendars.

POSTCARDS

This is one of our favorite methods for getting something in the hands of students.

Unlike something we hand them at church, we are sure it gets to their house.

Unlike an envelope, the message can be clearly seen without opening anything. (Takes away some of the creepy factor for parents seeing their kid get mail.)

And there's a cool factor. Most American families get two pieces of personal mail per month for the whole household! So when we send out a birthday card with a handwritten note, it really gets noticed!
Photo by Paul-W

ENVELOPES

FILLED WITH A LETTER, INFO CARDS & FUN
We send out quarterly bulk mailings. This is the most economical way to get information into the hands of parents.

The envelope usually has a letter explaining the contents and drawing attention to something significant, like a parent meeting or promotion time.

Then we throw in infocards that either promote events or have a seasonal calendar. And sometimes we'll throw in random stickers or other fun stuff to give them a reason to open the envelope!
Photo by Antonio Viva

POSTERS

We use large, 24"x36" movie size posters. Some hang in our building. Others are displayed in lightboxes outside the entrance for parents to see as they drive up.

These are great ways to promote big events or a teaching series.

We have learned to think like billboards. Use great imagery and keep the words as few as possible. (Having an amazing graphic artist on staff who can print these in house helps a lot too!)

TWITTER

140 characters forces us to be concise and intentional.

We usually tweet once to twice a day and almost every day.

We take advantage of sites like TinyURL to make long links more tweetable.

We have found that sending tweets first thing in the morning, during lunch time, or right when people are arriving home from school and work are the three most effective times. Most of these are targeted at parents, although sometimes the students like them too.
Photo by id-iom

FACEBOOK

We have a facebook fan page for our ministry. It allows parents to check in, whether they have a facebook account or not.

We use a similar schedule to Twitter for posting.

Content on facebook is mirrored to what we post on Twitter. However, if we have longer posts or want to communicate more details, we'll go with facebook because you do not face the 140 character limit. These are also usually targeted at parents, especially as statistically the average facebook user age is getting older.

EMAIL

Although many students do not use email, their parents still do.

However, with more and more people using their mobile devices for email, we have found shorter emails sent more frequently are more effective and better received than longer emails sent less often.

People don't want to scroll down. So we try to make our emails as concise as possible. Each email focuses on one point. If they need more details, we provide a link to a site or blog post where they can read more.

These are sent once a day, four days a week.
Photo by Stéfan

TEXT ALERTS

We use a great tool called Tatango to allow people to subscribe to our text alerts.

We commit to sending an average of two alerts per week, with a total of eight to ten per month.

These are usually reserved for event and service reminders or special, one-time announcements.

We also utilize this for special events and trips. Instead of posting on Twitter or Facebook our return time or all of our trip details, we send out text alerts just to those parents who have subscribed. This is great for the ride home too. One text alert saves tons of phone calls to let parents know if we are early, on time or running late.
Photo by mikecogh

FACE-TO-FACE

No matter the size of your ministry, you'll never get enough face time with students, parents or leaders.

However, making time to meet one-on-one with concerned parents, troubled kids, leaders (for training and relationship building), are all very beneficial to the health of our ministry.

I usually try to meet over coffee or lunch to provide a relaxed environment and a more enjoyable time together.

(This is also important with other staff members and leadership in church. Talking to people in person has not only solved problems and clarified confusion, it's provided some very helpful ideas and opportunities!)

COMMUNICATING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL MINISTRY

Ultimately, our job in communicating well is to help families - specifically the parents of middle school students.

All of us have busy lives with multiple forces fighting for our attention. Doing the hard work of communicating well with families with reap great ministry benefits.

This has been a much simplified explanation of what we do and why. But hopefully it will help you think about how you communicate with families in your ministry. It's an ongoing process. I'd love your feedback and ideas that have worked for you! (and questions too!)
Photo by Kalexanderson