Missions | Outreach
Katie Sutton

Katie has been serving teenagers and their families with her youth pastor husband, Darren, for over 20 years. They have three teenage boys that share the ministry adventure with them. She writes a blog for ministry spouses called Glass House Spouse and she is a contributing author to several Group resources including the Simple Truth Bible, Simple Truth LIVE Curriculum, Teenagers 50 Toughest Questions, and Two Sides of Youth Ministry. On any given day you might find her on the beach basking in the Corpus Christi sun or geocaching with her boys.

Specifically, what’s the size of your electronic footprint? When you think about your student ministry, would you say that it’s more like a Chupacabra or a Yeti? Now I don’t want you to just think about how great your student ministry Web site is or how many pictures of your students I can find on Instagram. But rather, what kind of spiritual impact is your student ministry making on the Internet?

I’ve become bothered by the fact that when I open the front page of Reddit, half of the posts are about atheism. As I casually cruise through YouTube, I easily run across videos of Imams explaining the Islamic faith, but when I type in “Christianity,” the top posts are almost always a spew of negativity directed straight at the Church and its people.

There’s no bigger presence on the Internet than teenagers. Aren’t our students on the Internet as much as other kids are? Where is their footprint? As youth leaders, it’s time to start asking ourselves some questions about our ministries:

. How much of the Internet content from your student ministry is actually produced by your students?

. Are we giving our students an electronic forum for the expression of their faith?

. How are we encouraging our students to impact their virtual world creatively?

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. Are we teaching them to be spiritually relevant in the venue of online gaming, videos, social media,etc…?

. How can we as student ministries flood the Internet with God messages?

Our students spend the majority of their time in the virtual world. Youth ministry should merge with this reality. Can you think of ways to design events and Bible studies that give students an excuse to share their spiritual life online? What if you spent all of Bible study making memes with a spiritual message and then immediately posted them on Memebase? How about a video diary of your missions trip produced entirely by your students, showing young Christians involved in compassionate acts? What if your student ministry had a YouTube channel dedicated to acts of kindness?

Students are creative. Allow them to do what they do best. Turn them loose. Encourage their efforts. Give them time in church to work on their creative content. Allow them access to the video, editing, lighting, stage, props, and resources you have at your church. You know they would love to get their hands on that stuff! Create platforms for their faith-voice in whatever forms they take.

Teach your students to evangelize their world in a way that is culturally relevant to them and increase the impact of your footprint. Like the Bible says, how blessed are the feet of him who brings good news… even when those feet are covered in Converse.

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