This post is part of our series on Social Media in Youth Ministry, be sure to check out the other posts! After having taken a good look at using Facebook and Twitter in youth ministry, today we’ll see how we could use blogging in youth ministry.
Blogging among teens and young adults is getting less popular, it has plummeted to half what it was in 2006. In that year, 28% of teens ages 12-17 and adults ages 18-29 were bloggers. By the fall of 2009, the numbers had dropped to 14% of teens and 15% of young adults. This was confirmed by a study done in February 2011: Young people don’t blog much anymore, they’ve switched to Facebook and Twitter is the conclusion here. In general, there’s a switch from ‘macro blogging’ to ‘micro blogging’ and teens are at the front of this move.
This explains the rising popularity of for instance Tumblr, a microblogging platform where you can easily share short blogs, audio, videos, pictures, etc. The principle of following applies here as well, so you can see the blogs and stuff of the people you follow and obviously, they can follow you in return. Tumblr is rapidly gaining popularity, especially amongst youth. At this point, 20.3% of the Tumblr users are in the 12-17 group and 29.3% are in the 18-24 group.
Using blogging to connect with youth
Old-fashioned blogging is not the best way to connect with teens. If you had high hopes of starting a blog that would be well read amongst youth, you may be facing a hard battle to reach that goal. Chances are you’ll do much better on a microblogging platform like Tumblr. You could consider opening an account there (private or under the name of your church/youth ministry) and connecting with (your) youth. Just make sure you keep your account active, update regularly and interact with others. Remember, the goal is an interactive dialogue.
Using blogging to connect with youth workers
While blogging may not be the best way to reach youth, it’s a good way to connect with other youth workers from around the globe, as I have discovered myself. It’s great to have people from all over the world read your blog and comment on it. It does take a lot of effort though. If connecting with other youth workers is your main goal, there are far easier and less time-consuming routes than blogging, like Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn.
But maybe you feel like you have something to share with the world or the youth ministry community about your experiences in youth ministry and you think blogging is the best way to do that. I’m all for more youth ministry bloggers, but I’d advise you to think things through before you jump in.
There are hundreds of blogs dedicated to teaching you about becoming successful at blogging, so I’m not going to go there. I just want out to point out a few things you may want to consider before embarking on a time (and energy) consuming adventure in youth ministry blogging:
Are you passionate about writing about youth ministry?
I’m not asking if you are passionate about youth ministry, I would certainly hope that’s the case if you’re a youth worker, but are you passionate about writing about it? Quick test: grab a white piece of paper and make a list of topics you’d want to blog about. If you can’t come up with at least forty, fifty ideas like that, chances are you’ll be out of ideas to write about within two months.
Do you have to time to blog about youth ministry?
If you want your blog to be even remotely successful, posting regularly (at least twice a week) is key. Do you have the time for this? And please don’t forget that it’s not just the writing, it’s also the maintenance of the site, doing constant improvements, responding to comments, etc. If not, why not ask existing youth ministry blogs to guest blog there? (and yes, Youth Leaders Academy does accept guest blogs, see the info on the About page)You could share you knowledge and experience without investing in a blog of your own. Or team up with several youth workers with likeminded interests and start a blog together.
Why do you want to blog about youth ministry?
It may seem like a very obvious question, but take some time to really check your motivation. Is it truly about sharing your knowledge and experience? Or is there an ‘ego-thing’ involved, a deep desire to get recognition, approval or even fame? Sure, having a well known blog certainly has its perks and deep down many of us would love to be like Doug Fields or even speak at a big youth ministry conference…but is that what God wants for you? Does He call you to serve faithfully in whatever position you’re in or are you truly being led towards something else, maybe something bigger. I’d definitely gets God’s opinion in your blogging plans if I were you.
Do you have something unique to offer in youth ministry blogging?
There are hundreds of youth ministry blogs out there, but only a few that ‘make it’. Look at the top-20 of youth ministry blogs, all of these blogs have something unique to offer. Some have tons of experience (Doug Fields obviously), others have a certain gift (wisdom, creativity, teaching, discernment), some have a area they’re specialized in (Greg Stier: evangelism, Jonathan McKee: youth culture and media), some are from a youth ministry organization that has something unique to share (Fuller Institute, Youth Specialties). All of them have a reason they’re popular. What do you bring to the table, what is your unique thing that will make people want to read your blog?
I hope these questions will help you make the right choice in blogging in youth ministry. Are you blogging right now? If so, what’s your main goal in blogging?