Social Media in Youth Ministry

Greetings Youthworker Movement! It’s been a long time, but I am so excited to be back writing, a passion of mine. Since last writing here at the Youthworker Movement I have moved ministry settings and am now serving at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church. In my new setting of ministry, I have been reminded in this ministry setting, the vast influence that a certain model of communication has on our lives and the lives of the students in our Youth Ministries.

When was the last time you tweeted? Posted on Instagram? Sent a Snapchat? Since this morning the teenagers in your ministry have used one or all of these outlets multiple times, in fact, current research shows that:

92% of American teens go online daily, including 24% who go online ‘almost constantly.

Let the following infographic from Teen Safe: Protecting the Most Valuable Treasure explain further:


At the core of our calling as youth workers is communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Layman’s translation: We communicate. We communicate a lot!

We do Sunday School, Sunday Nights, Wednesday Nights, Bible Study, Mission Trip, Worship, and many other great things in our youth ministry context. In every one of those settings, we are communicating. We now live in a culture where communication is constant; it never stops which puts us in a predicament. How do we communicate the life worth living, life in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with everything else that is being communicated? The sobering fact is that every second there are around 6,000 tweets posted on Twitter.

6,000 per second!

What many have tried and failed in doing was demonizing social media, and that is just not working. That failed very quickly, and more and more youth become more and more disinterested in church. So, we must come to terms with how we are going to effective use social media as a tool for communicating the gospel. I wanted today to give you two quick things that you can do right now to help you in this regard.

Get a Youth Ministry Instagram Account – If you don’t have one already, you need to set up an Instagram for your youth ministry. You can find the one that I manage at @heightstumin for the Student Ministry at Arlington Heights UMC. This is our major hub of information that we share with our students. We send all kinds of gifs for laughs (appropriate ones of course), encouragement pictures, promo graphics for retreats coming up, videos of worship, testimony videos of our students, and we are constantly flooding this account.


Because that is where they are all the time. You communicate to and with your students where they are and in the language that they are speaking.

Connect this Instagram account with Facebook and Twitter – There are a lot of social media options out there, and some are great and safe and others, not so much. So I would suggest you stick with the top 3. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Once that you have created an Instagram account for your youth ministry, connect that account to a youth ministry facebook page and a twitter account.

  • Download typorama, adobe spark, or the Bible app to create encouraging pictures to post on instagram. These apps enable you to choose a photo background and put text on top of the background. The Bible App with creates daily bible verse insta-ready for you to post. (other apps of interest are ultratext , wordswag , and I am sure many others. My preference however for my posting are typorama and adobe spark).

The Facebook Page is not really for students; it’s a P.R. move to show the parents and other people in the church what the youth ministry is doing. Some youth will check it, but most won’t because Facebook is where their parents and grandparents are. The Twitter, however, is another place youth congregate for the fast pace nature of sharing tweets.

After you have done that begin sharing all you can through Instagram to these other media outlets. Whenever your gatherings are during the week really post all you can to these accounts. The more you share, the more they will see, they more they will likely share and invite friends to join them and you in ministry.


Final thing, I am teaching a Social Media Strategy Workshop at Spark Youth Ministry Conference in January and would love for you to come so that we can continue this conversation and learn and grow together in how we can use social media as a tool and not so much a hindrance. At this workshop, we will discuss in more specifics how you can setup your own social media strategy in your ministry setting. You can register for Spark Youth Ministry Conference by clicking

You can register for Spark Youth Ministry Conference by clicking here. We have lots of great workshops coming this year and you don’t want to miss this!

Rock Our Souls

I have been planning for this weekend for longer that I thought I was.

This weekend the Heights Youth Ministry at Arlington Heights UMC where I am blessed to be the Director of Youth Ministry is having a retreat at our church for our youth to deepen in their faith, their identity in Christ, and their call to live a full life in love and grace. The actual retreat have been on my mind ever since I started at Arlington Heights.

Teenagers need an experience away from school, family, and stress of life to focus completely on God. We all need that, but it is crucial to have that experience in your adolescence, because these experiences ground you in the only identity that you should concern yourself with.

I am additionally blessed that I have the pleasure to lead this retreat with a co-speaker, Jason Weaver, my best friend, my brother in arms. We have always dreamed what it would be like to do ministry together and this weekend we finally get to experience what crazy ministry God is going to do. Even more so our worship team is a team of two of my other brother in arms. Joseph Cisneroz and Timothy Miler. It’s a scary thought the four of us together, but nonetheless I am excited.

Personal moment over.

What I need from you is prayers. We have over 15 students coming to stay with us this weekend from Arlington Heights and I want you to pray for them consistently through the weekend. Pray for them to cast aside all distractions and to focus completely on God and God alone this weekend. Pray that God rocks our souls with His mighty love and grace and that through that they cement their identity in God.

It’s going to be amazing to see what God does in us, through us, and thankfully in spite of us.


Don’t Pull A Homer


When I was younger and even now I was a big fan of a certain TV show, The Simpsons. The Simpsons have been on television since December of 1989, for the majority of my life. For those of you who do not know the Simpson are an interesting family. Homer and Marge Simpson are the parents and they have three children, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. As I have grown in age my love for the show hasn’t changed but I have. Homer is one of comedic aspects of the show, but as I have grown older this character has become somewhat of a cultural norm for us.

Homer is what the world expects of us. He is who we are comfortable being, or maybe not. I am not comfortable with my life being like Homers. So, today we are going to analyze who Homer is, where he is going, and why he is going there and through this we will see hopefully that there is a better way.

A week in the life of Homer J. Simpson is a bleak one. He drinks, a lot, goes to work which is pretty much a joke to him which is quite telling, because Homer works at a Nuclear Power Plant, where if he pushes the wrong button the whole community could have a nuclear explosion. When he is not at work he is at the Bar, Moe’s Tavern where he is drinking with his buddies, usually coming up with a terrible scheme to get more money or fame, which always ends badly.

To answer the question Homer isn’t really going anywhere and being anyone.

Hey, from our end its funny. Sort of, until this becomes our life.

Parents, how many of y’all want your kids to grow up to be a Homer? Not many of you. The most telling of this entire thing is Homer goes to church, but you wouldn’t be able to tell, because he is like many of the current state of the church. Not transformed. Just present in a pew, physically present anyway.

His life is not changed however by his presence at church because He is not really there. His being at church is not a decision on his part but one where Marge, his wife has said we are going to church. Going to church doesn’t make you a disciple just like a car just being a garage makes it a GTO. Our lives are not changed by a presence of osmosis, but by a decision, a commitment, a covenant with God.

God wants so much for us, so much more abundance and we see Christmas’ go by every year and we set New Years resolution and fail them time and time again. Jesus wasn’t bored to tears in heaven; His coming may the most intentional creation that God has done in the history of everything. He meticulously designed this great moment and has been leading to this moment and every part of this moment screams to all of creation who God really is or more importantly who He is not!

He chooses Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, Wise people from across the world and a stable to reveal Himself to the world. All will be a part of this story and in this very action God is saying all are welcome in my kingdom and in this abundant life.

Mary today is possibly the best image for what we do now. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.”

No negotiations, no complaints, just faith and surrender. I am sure she thought of all the doubts, the concerns, and all that would happen.

Mary continues on in verse 46 by praising God:

“Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.””

Listen to something similar from John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement:

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

Who are you and I? We are Gods children, we are no longer slaves to fear and doubt but at our core we belong to God and He to us.

Where are we going? Where He leads us and we are going there because He is good and worthy of our trust and faith.

Don’t let this season of renewal in Christ go by without saying Yes to the life that God deeply wants for you, so much that He gave His own Son. Let us transformed from the inside out so that through us we can partner with God in transforming the world.

Don’t just exist in the life that God has for you, LIVE that LIFE with ABUNDANCE.



Jurassic: Old Habits Die Hard

At First Cleburne Student Ministry we  are officially in Christmas Break with our programming but in just a couple of weeks, we are starting a new sermon series that I am really excited about. On January 6th, we are beginning a three-week emphasis on Habits with a series entitled, Jurassic: Old Habits Die Hard.

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Teenagers have lots of habits, but some habits go way back and they are destructive, so destructive it’s like a T-REX is attacking you spiritually and further separating you from the abundant life in Christ. Each week we will hear a message about a habit that most teenagers can relate to and how we are called to let this habit die.

Week One: Creating Drama – Following our own selfish desires will eventually cause drama in our relationships.

Focus scripture: James 4:1-12

Week Two: Dating to Find Self-Worth – Don’t look to find your identity in a dating relationship, find it in Jesus.

Focus Scripture: John 4:1-30

Week Three: Lying and the Misuse of Social Media – The new life we receive through Jesus should change the way we engage with others in person and online.

Focus Scripture: Ephesians 4:17-32

Additionally, with this series, we will take on a 21 day Habits Challenge. This challenge will involve Adults and Students alike for 21 days, where we will challenge ourselves to daily do the follow things:

1. Hang Time With God – Spending 5-10 minutes reading scripture or spending time in prayer with God.
2. Accountability – Once a week meet with a close friend or mentor and discuss how things are going in your life.
3. Bible Memorization – Make reading and remembering the Word a priority.
4. Involvement – Get involved with the ministries of the church. Help in the office, pray in the prayer room, there is so much you can be doing.
5. Tithe – Give a tithe or a monetary or time-based gift to the church
6. Study Scripture – Pick a scripture and study it over and over and see what God does.

So why is this important and why am I sharing this with you? Simply because prayer works and I believe in its power. So I ask that you pray for all the students of First Cleburne Student Ministries and the Student Ministry Leaders (Staff & Volunteers) as we journey together through this series.

If you are interested in this series and more like it I would highly recommend Ministry Pass. Jurassic is a series that was originally created by them. It’s a great resource!

Thank You God

Youth Ministry is just like any other job in our world, it has good days, great days, bad days, and awful days. Then you get a day like yesterday, where God shows up and blows you off your feet. I need to rewind back to August right quick to explain what happened yesterday. In August or September, I can’t remember which really we had a Student Leadership Retreat. At these retreats we gather together and put everything on the table for the students to know about, in this case, I showed the team what 2015 – 2016 looked like for the Student Ministries, at First United Methodist Church. Conversations that day were great, we were thinking and re-thinking, but there has always been an event that was hit or miss. Our Student Ministries Christmas Party. Last year at our party we had a whopping 55 students show up and the plan for the right was a progressive dinner and a white elephant gift exchange.

  1. Have you ever done a Progressive Dinner with 14 vehicles? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it.
  2. Have you ever done a white elephant gift exchange with 55 students!? Again, definitely, wouldn’t recommend it.

So, we had a quandary and a good one at that. We had more students than we expected to show up, so it was time to rethink how we celebrate Christmas as a Student Ministry. There are moments in student where I am immensely proud of my students. In response to this Christmas party experience, they decided this year in lieu of receiving gifts to give back to the volunteers of the student ministry. Last night was our Volunteer Ministry Awards Night, our very own VMA’s, and it was filled with great fellowship, a fun game show and incredible worship.

During worship our speaker, Will Whitworth, who is a junior of Cleburne High School said very eloquently this:

“If youth are the hands and feet of Christ and they are as we all are, but volunteers you are the arms and the legs. The hands and feet can’t function without the help of the arms and legs. We are connected in one body.”

What a powerful image of God and the ministry we have been called to do. We are all connected, and while we don’t do all the same things in the community we all connect all these things to the Kingdom. I am beyond blessed to walk the walk of faith with such as these. Thank you, God for all that you have given us and that you, in fact, are Immanuel. You are with us!

Can’t wait for 2016 VMA’s!