Recently I have found myself in a communication quandary.
This past Saturday night I received a text picture from a longtime volunteer on my phone. The caption of the text said, “You’re not a pastor? I knew you were lying the whole time.” The picture was of our list of pastors and this week I had been cut off the list.
Awesome, I wish somebody would have told me I need to look for a job (I knew it was a printing mistake). In a culture with multiple forms of communication it seems communication would be a piece of cake for youth workers. What I have found is exactly opposite. It is actually harder to communicate clearly in the barrage of messages that our teens and parents hear.
Another quick story: We had a volunteer meeting where I communicated with an email a month out, a text two weeks out, and a text the day before. I thought I had covered my bases but only 20% showed up.
Here are some thoughts from some hard communication lessons:
1. One on one communication shows care and love. Whenever I send a mass email or text I usually get no replies. When I send personal notes (handwritten sometimes—yes I know it is old school), texts, emails, or phone calls, the response is much better. Also, face to face is always best.
2. There is no specific preferred communication method. After the meeting where we only had a 20% turn out, I asked those 10 people what would be the preferred way to communicate with them. They gave me about five different answers. Also, with students it seems as if Facebook is a great way to communicate but what is the next medium? It will change quickly so we must learn to master the multiple means of communication to get our message out.
3. Less is more I have also learned this lesson the hard way. Parents and students lives are so full of stuff. When we have a million things to promote…nothing will be promoted. We have had to make hard decisions on what to communicate. When everything is important to communicate…nothing is important. So we try hard to communicate the bare minimum in the simplest form possible. This is hard but beneficial work.
4. Over communicate You know the saying location, location, location. There should be another one: communicate, communicate, communicate. For people to get the messages we must over communicate. Sometimes I have felt like I have said something 100 times. Then a student will come up and ask, “When is the retreat?” or a volunteer will say, “What are our values?” When I start to feel sick of saying something…that means I am doing a good job communicating. Well, there are some thoughts about my current communication quandary. It makes me think about Jesus and Peter at the end of Gospel of John. He asks him, Peter do you get it…Peter do you get it….Peter do you get it? (John 21:15-19) Then Peter got is. So when you feel like volunteers, parents, or students are not getting it…keep at it…they will.