Leneita Fix

Leneita has been involved in youth or family ministry for over 24 years serving in rural, suburban and urban settings, camps, small and large churches and non-profits. She has authored or co-authored several youth ministry books, including Everybody’s Urban Understanding the Survival Mode of the Next Generation among others. Leneita is the ministry and training coordinator for BowDown Church, co-founded a coaching and training organization called Frontline Urban Resources (everybodysurban.org) and lives with her amazing husband John and four children in Florida.

rotary phone

“Does it work?” one of my children asked.

“Yes, it’s plugged into the phone jack, of course it will work,” their grandmother responded.

“How do I use it?” they sat wide eyed.   “Well, you put your finger in the hole of the first number you want to dial and pull it down until it stops, do that with every number until the call goes through.” she explained.

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“Can I try it?!?” they wanted to know.

This conversation happened last month between my three Middle School children and their grandmother.  She happens to keep an “old fashioned” rotary phone plugged in.  It’s funny to think a generation not only has never “used” one of these, they can’t recall seeing it before much less it existing in their home.  There was a time when getting in touch with students was as simple as seeing them in person or picking up a phone… that was attached to a cord of some kind. Not so any more.  In person is still the BEST way to communicate with a student or their parent.  However, there are times when we must track them down by other means.  If I want to “know” what’s going on in their lives I have to use different methods. I think this is true of the “churched” and “unchurched” crowd.

It may seem like an oversimplified list,  however to be in the know of my students I literally have to use ALL of the following methods:



The “Old” Faithfuls

Phones and email still remain key ways to communicate. I have one student who loses their phone often, but always checks emails. Another student will only text me. Now with talk to text options on smart phones, conversations are made easy.  There are times when I just need to hear their voice. I always make sure to know if they still have a landline, and who answers it.  These are always are starting places in the dance for communication.


facebook Facebook

My students may ask if you have an account on “The Book.” (It’s what some of my youth call it.)  Sometimes this is the best way to get a message to a student, or a simple reminder on their home page. Starting a youth group page, or events page for trips is usually the easiest place to get all of your students to check and be held accountable.

 kik Kik

“Kik” is a texting app that can be added onto a smart phone, ipod or tablet.  The reality is not all of my students have a phone, or their phone service is turned off from time to time.  This texting app allows you to talk to friends as long as you have “wifi.”  Recently, I had a student with no phone, who never checks Facebook or email.  We finally determined she had this account and we could get her info she needed.

instagram Instagram

More and more of my students are either taking down their Facebook pages, or they simply don’t use them.  Where they are at right now is Instagram.  If a picture is worth a thousand words then this is the place for you to “see” what’s going on in the life of your students.

This may not be true of everyone, however, most of my students currently do not use Twitter.  Vine is the up and coming video looping site and Pinterest is where we go to gather information about an idea. However, the truth is if I really want to “talk” I still approach it “old school,”  I show up and see them face to face.

How do you stay in touch with YOUR students?

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  • Danette says:

    So true, and important to simply ask students how they’re communicating. Funny, Facebook is the easiest way to comm with our high schoolers, but most of our middle schoolers don’t have an account. So, old fashioned emails to them and their parents are still the most reliable way I let them know what’s happening in our small group.

    Thanks for the tips Leneita!

  • Chris codding says:

    We have bounced around the idea of creating a “youth only” instragram account but due to privacy and all the law suits we are having to do a permission type form. The question that yet lingers is what happens if a photo is posted to the account with a picture of a youth whom parents did not sign the photo release form? With mutiple youth taking pictures and tagging our account is it hard to keep up with? Thinking maybe having some older core students become the admins to moderate but just curious if others had issues with these things?

    • Leneita Fix Leneita Fix says:

      Chris- I think that is a tough question. I would say at most “youth events” you are going to have privacy and liability release forms already. It there are tagging your account that is different than being posted “from” your account. That is like saying, I want you to want to see this. We do have to be very cautious about these sorts of things, and savvy of what is going on in the world. There is a difference if you don’t have the release- or if a parent doesn’t want pictures of their kids “out there.” Then you don’t allow them to be uploaded through your account. I think if it’s a real concern putting an adult to admin final decisions, but then allowing some core students to “keep an eye out” is best. We want the “buck to stop” with a position that adheres to policies and not opinions – if that makes sense.

  • Abby says:

    Don’t forget good old fashioned MAIL!

    I still have a shoebox full of cards and letters from ladies at church, sent to encourage me. They last longer than a phone call, are tangible unlike an e-mail, and there’s just something so special about ink on paper. I love to make my own cards (in all that spare time, haha) and that adds another element of care.

    Even a quick postcard is a way to brighten someone’s day – you took the time and made an effort.

    Now I’m going to go write out a thank-you card to a local children’s choir for their beautiful performance at a community event last night…


    • Leneita Fix Leneita Fix says:

      Abby!!! Yes!! I once met a youth pastor who gave me a great idea on this. Whenever he travels “away” to speak or for something without his youth, he uses different things he finds along the way to write a note of encouragement and send it to various teens. For example he writes on the “barf bag” from the plane, the note pad from the hotel room, a postcard is great as well. The four I gave were ways our youth are connecting already, but reminding them about mail is a way of engaging them in a “forgotten” tradition!

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