Don’t get me wrong…I like Facebook. A lot. (Although this guy makes some good points!) As a tool for youth ministry, it can be powerful. I love seeing status updates from kids about what they’re doing, seeing photos from school plays or dances and even youth group events. As a youth ministry, we’ve even utilized Facebook to create a Celebrate Youth Ministry group for announcements, events, and photos. And countless other youth ministries and Christian interest groups are doing the same.
It’s great to communicate with kids in a forum that they like, to meet them where they are. According to Facebook’s statistics page, there are over 250 million users on the site (though I can’t be sure how many are students). I love leaving encouraging messages or commenting on their photos or videos. It’s a reminder for them, and me, that youth ministry isn’t just a one-night-a-week thing for me. But it can’t be used to build meaningful relationships. I am convinced that our encouragement, our mentoring, our “doing life together” must be done face-to-face. It’s too easy for our students to hide behind technology. Tim Schmoyer shares a little on Facebook-friendship here.
But it’s also an indicator for where our students are really at spiritually. And honestly, it can be discouraging to see status updates about the latest party or pictures that show too much. But it is a great jumping-off point for challenging discussion with those students that I already have a relationship with.
Becky Albertson is an Administrative Assistant with Celebrate KIDS and Celebrate Youth.