- Written By: Breanna Riddell
- Posted: Apr 13th 2022
Youth ministry is not for the faint of heart (can I get an amen? 🙌)! Stewarding teenagers is so important, and yet, statistics show that church attendance has been declining for years. Busy schedules can create difficulties for youth leaders who are trying to connect and disciple the next generation of Jesus followers. Students WANT an authentic faith, but often don’t know how to balance church, school jobs, friends, families, etc. at the same time. As a youth pastor, do these questions sound familiar?
- “How do I get my teenagers to pay attention in service?”
- ”How can I encourage my teens to consistently attend?”
- ”How do I welcome and follow-up with new students?”
- ”How do I get my leaders plugged in?”
These questions are tough, but texting can help bridge the gap between disengaged students and a thriving ministry. With a 97% open rate, (three times more successful than any other communication method) texting helps you reach students and volunteers in every season of life. With all of that in mind, there are a number of ways to help you capture opportunities to “cut through the noise” and connect.
Let’s dive into some practical ways to use Clearstream for your student ministry…
Create a place to text your students from
Before you send your first text, you may want to set your student ministry up with its own account to have a separate inbox and phone number. Having a subaccount helps create intentional communication for both volunteers and students. Invite your volunteer leaders as users in your student ministry account, and encourage them to engage in two-way conversations with students.
Foster a culture of prayer in your youth group
Encourage a safe space for your teens by letting them know their prayer requests will remain confidential. Create private and intentional conversations by setting up a longcode specifically for prayer requests. Your volunteers can easily manage incoming messages by responding straight from their laptop or mobile phone.
Follow up with new students
When a new student shows up, be ready! A simple way to interact with newcomers is through a keyword. Each keyword comes with a QR code that you can place in a digital slide during your announcements. When students feel comfortable, they can text in with a keyword and automatically enter an onboarding series that welcomes them and encourages them to get connected. You can even use delayed messaging in your workflows to send multiple texts over the course of a few days or weeks, making sure no student falls through the cracks.
Reconnect with students
If you notice a student is absent, send a “check-in” text. Create a list of students you want to touch base with, and update that list each week. Trigger automated messages reminding students they’re missed and that you hope to see them the following week. If students reply back, you can easily break off into a one-on-one conversation from your inbox.
Make sure no one misses a student event
Students often forget about upcoming events (with all they have going on, who can blame them?). Send announcement texts that include sign up links to help eliminate last-minute registration stressors. Close the “I never knew about that” communication gap by sending weekly updates to parents and students.
Text during student services
Keep your students focused during a sermon by texting them questions or creating fun trivia games through polls. Display live, on-screen poll results for all students to see! Polls are also helpful for gathering feedback on topics students are interested in studying, what days are best for small groups, or what snacks to have at the next event.
Empower volunteer leaders
Set your leaders up for success. Create small group lists in Clearstream and encourage your leaders to send weekly texts to the groups they lead. You can also use lists to send recurring updates to your volunteers, reminding them to reach out to their groups. This is a great way to encourage your leaders, remind them of upcoming services/events, or even send small group materials.
Stay connected at all times
Connect from anywhere at anytime. For last-minute changes, unexpected event cancelations, “on the go” conversations, or reminder announcements – send messages from the mobile app (IOS or Android). Enable push notifications for your mobile app to ensure no texts get missed.