I remember asking my supervisor for budget approval to purchase a new video camera.
I was ready for him to tell me I was asking for too much money. I presented my request, and there was no discussion. It was a resounding “yes.” I said, “It’s that easy?” He said: “Why wouldn’t I say yes? That camera will help you tell the story behind your ministry. Many teens will go on your trips, but through video, our whole church will be able to experience those trips and see their impact.”
I thought the win was getting a nice camera, but my supervisor saw the camera as a tool that would help our youth ministry move the needle toward a greater win. That brief conversation many years ago expanded how I think. It bleeds over into how we approach social media today. Now, my success is not tied to cool tech, followers, or likes. Instead, I use these four guardrails to leverage our resources—to move the needle and build momentum to help us fulfill our mission as a youth ministry.
1. Content is King
Okay, we know Jesus is King, but this is a phrase a friend who works at a TV station said to me many years ago. He reminded me that while expensive equipment makes things look good, the worst-shot YouTube video can get hundreds of millions of views. Just because your TikTok was shot in 4K doesn’t mean people will come back to your stream.
Small Win: The product was high-quality and beautiful.
Big Win: The content brought viewers back.
2. Credibility is Your Currency
If you want your teenagers to come back, you have to build trust with them. If they think you’re only going to sell them something, push them towards an event, or make them do something for you, chances are they’re going to keep scrolling. There is power in trust. How are you building trust with your students?
Small Win: I told them what I wanted to tell them.
Big Win: We are building trust.
3. Leave Them Wanting More
We make this mistake all the time with games—we quit the game when the fun gets out of hand instead of leaving everyone wanting more. We don’t want to post too much or too little, but we always want to quit before the peak.
Small Win: I overloaded them with everything I had.
Big Win: I left them on the edge of their seats.
4. Do Ministry, Don’t Just Point to Ministry
There’s a difference between what we can do for you and what we want from you. It’s okay to point to events, trips, and retreats, but your social media can turn into social marketing without you realizing it. Leverage the online access teenagers are giving you to encourage and to create interaction.
Small Win: I got the word out.
Big Win: I was able to engage.
There’s no one way to do social media, but there are better ways. If you don’t clarify your win, you may mark your small victories as the finished product instead of rolling those wins into momentum for your greater purpose.