In recent years one of my evaluation checklist items during the summer has been thinking about how we communicate and inform our families and students – with technology and what works changing from year to year (remember when every good youth pastor used MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger?), it’s something that has to be constantly updated. I really like honing in on three tools for blasting the message out – one wouldn’t get to everyone, and more than three becomes overwhelming. So, after much thought, review, and a lot of influence from the survey we had parents take last May/June, here’s where we’re focusing our communication efforts this school year …
- Facebook (www.Facebook.com/SummitDE). Kind of a ‘no duh’ here; they’re all on it! It’s the best way to interact, see how kids are doing, get a sense of who is interested in events, etc.
- Texting. I’ve been using Simply TXT for a few years now and still love it. Very convenient, and very effective for the majority of our students who live on their cell phones and can’t be bothered with anything they can’t access from a portable device. I did just download ‘Group Text’, an app for my iPhone that was only $3 and promises to do mass texting from my phone and my cell number (instead of an email based system like most mass texting services).
- Mail. Will I ever quit using this? The two previous ones probably are the best way to contact 80% of the group (especially high school), but for the rest the one guaranteed way to get to them is old fashioned mail.
On the survey, I asked about a variety of communication formats – it wasn’t even a contest. The following three were neck and neck … and miles ahead of all the other options. So it’s a no-brainer!
- Email. The number one choice for the majority of parents; my goal is to use it more this year. Last year I was sporadic at best. My goal is to do weekly short emails basically made up of bullet points. The necessary details on upcoming events, needs, and links to resources and follow up ideas to our Sunday morning lessons.
- Mail. Because of budgetary reasons, we won’t use this as much, but it’s still a critical tool in getting out our calendars and important information. We actually have a big mailing going out this week with a few biggies; news about this year, a fridge magnet with our website and key dates for the year, and an annual calendar with all of our special events for the school year listed on it.
- Ministry News. This is our weekly Sunday bulletin, which according to the survey, is a huge part of how we keep parents informed. So we’re going to keep making the Student Page a priority in it!
And one experiment. For the first time I’ve had enough parents voice interest in mass texting (for signup reminders, cancellations, etc.), that we will try it out this year and see how it goes. In theory I would only be texting parents 2-3 times a month, if that.