Can blogging serve Youth Ministry?

I’m gearing up for my seminar-thingy at the MATRIX conference (of the above title) and although I’ve not heard anything from MATRIX I assume I’ve not been scratched from the line up! I want to cover Bebo, MySpace et al in the process as well, exploring the opportunity AND the Child Protection issues that arise!
SO (can’t you just feel that request for help coming), If you have set up a site for your group I’d LOVE to hear from you.
Thanks 🙂
Captains Log Supplemental: Now have all the details of MATRIX (they were sent on Feb 12th but didn’t arrive). So the low down is thus: There are now 117 peeps booked in. (Three people have booked in this morning …….. It must be a nightmare organising things for us Yoof Wurkas).
I’m doing my Workshop twice, so I’d recommend coming to the one on Wednesday morning when I’ll have got the hang of it and beside which, How popular is the one at 19:30 on Monday going to be?

13 Replies to “Can blogging serve Youth Ministry?”

  1. Although I can’t get along with MySpace (cos I’m a bit of a web development/design purist and MySpace is an abomination!) I have to recognise that a number of my youth group members use it. I use it occasionally to keep up to date with them, but I don’t maintain my own profile and rarely comment on theirs.
    I’ve recently joined FaceBook [www.facebook.com] and absolutely love it. I have added all my youth group members who have profiles, and it keeps me informed. It’s mostly my group members who are currently at Uni who have profiles at the moment – so it’s a fantastic way of staying in touch with them. I regularly update my profile [brookes.facebook.com/profile.php?id=277004495], and interact with my FaceBook friends.
    In addition to the above, and maintaining my own site [www.easyrew.com], I maintain a number of other sites for different groups within my youth work. One for our Summer Camp [www.mk-camp.com] which simply provides information and notification of updates. One for my Amicus group [www.amicans.wordpress.com] which is updated every week with information and pictures about what we’ve been up to (this is mostly because attendance is irregular at times and it allows people to stay up to date even when they can’t get there – particularly helpful for the University bods).
    For a while I maintained what I hoped would turn into a group-blog for general thoughts, etc. but it didn’t really turn into anything useful.
    Hope there’s something useful in there for you.
    Ricky

  2. Ian, although not attending MATRIX, I’d be interested to hear your take on this subject. From what I understand from my volunteers, the similarly themed seminar at Youthwork: The Conference (The Influence Of New Media) didn’t really cover any of the potential issues with these new technologies, and just explained what they were. They were hoping for a bit more content. Will there be a recording or transcript of your talk?

  3. Hi!
    I’m a Long time reader, 1st time commenting. I’m one of Jon’s “volunteers”, and went to the Infulence of New Media seminars. They encouraged everyone to be using mobiles and internet social networking sites but in my mind mentioned the serious issue of accountability. I’d be interested in hearing or reading your talk.

  4. Like Rich I use Facebook for those who’ve gone to uni from my groups or those currently at BCUC where I’m a chaplain as well as those in our Taize group – so that’s the place for the 18-25 age group really. There’s much more emphasis on sharing and less on the ME and MY look of MYspace. I am on Myspace but generally don’t like it as much. I’ve recently joined Bebo too and reserving judgement at the mo – like the whiteboard!! Blogging seems to me to be a much more over 25 thing to do.
    I think the interesting thing about all these things is reading the profiles of the young people in your group and seeing what they mention. It can be a start for discussion about some things too. Interestingly some make no mention of their faith even though they are pretty firm in their faith but myspace seems to be a place where flirtation is acceptable but religion is less so.
    On the general guidelines issue, I remember a youthworker who tried to save all the text messages s/he sent to young people. That’s pretty tough to do in practice but what should we be doing? I hope you’ll be addressing that kind of thing in what you TALK about and maybe have written resources for ppl who simply want to know WHAT myspace/bebo/facebook/facebox is.

  5. That’s helpful everyone but PLEASE do keep commenting. I’ll definitely post the content in case its useful and I will be covering the legal side and implications of new media.
    Keep going with questions, critiques, experiences and observations though.
    (oh and big Hi to Dave the first time Commenter)
    Thanks 🙂

  6. We’ve got two MySpace accounts set up, one for Collective (girl band based with us) and one for an after College group, “Holy Joe’s”. The idea is that this creates at least a slightly professional distance between the young people and ourselves, as opposed to simply linking to any of our team’s personal MySpace accounts.
    In communicating with young people Collective never reply or post as individual team members – whoever is writing/posting signs off as “Collective”. We’ve had some yp attempting to initiate potentially inappropriate levels of contact so this keeps things at a safe distance.
    We did have an occasion when one very persistent young man followed a web trail to find out the surname and personal MySpace account for one of the members of Collective and then proceeded to harrass her to accept him as a friend. Following this we have run a sort of web audit trail to make sure that none of the band’s surnames are on the web. Be wise about what information you post about yourself (esp. home address, mobile numbers, personal email) and also think about where else this info might be available online – Google does a good job of finding you!
    Other youth ministries locally have also set up non-personal sites to avoid too personal a level of contact (real or implied). Although this may seem almost meaningless where you are the only youth worker, I would suggest that even in this situation it’s wiser to set up a (e.g.) “St. Goggins Youth” account rather than simply using your own MySpace/Bebo/Facebok account as this models a professional youth worker relationship.
    Hope that makes sense!
    In related news… I was talking to someone only today about what might come next after MySpace. After all, everything ‘youth’ has a time limit…
    [BTW Ricky, I agree MySpace looks like a web design mess!]

  7. hey ian, not coming to matrix either but keen to hear your thoughts. i have myspace, facebook, and obviously the blog, altho all of these i set up for myself to keep in touch with friends and family rather than as a youth worker. interesting part is where young people from church and drop in have added me on myspace. am curious as to whether ur seminar will cover msn or skype at all (?)

  8. Paul Flavel at National YFC might be worth contacting, cos he (and Kate, the other National Evangelist) have just been writing a whole seminar-y thing on myspace and evangelism, called something like ‘Does God have a Myspace?’. They might have some useful ideas or something 🙂 x

  9. My observation about the MySpace generation is that whilst, on the one hand, people are concerned about things like ID cards removing freedom; on the other hand, the MySpace generation are chucking their freedom voluntarily onto the net.
    F’rinstance, if I was a parent 20 years ago concerned about what my offspring was getting up to at a teenage party, I would just have to trust them. These days, I could just look up all their mates’ MySpace and Bebo accounts for a complete photographic record of the evening (and probably find it on YouTube as well)!

  10. The rise of MySpace, Bebo and the like is a regular source of discussion around here, primarily because of the kind of stuff that the young people are posting. There seems to be an ongoing battle between the parents/schools and the young people over trying to keep them off those sites.
    One possibility, might be whether you could address the desire of the young people to post online, but mitigate the Child Protection issues by running your own Social Networking site. Watching these two videos with the people behind Ning at http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1372/social-networking-with-ning-version-20 and with the demo of the site at http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1373/build-your-own-social-space-with-ning-version-2 it looks like it should be possible to produce a more controlled and safe environment using that, than the sort of wide open social networking that goes on at MySpace and Bebo. The fundamental issues with that as a solution would seem to be firstly that it probably would hit problems with it not being the latest cool site to go to, and also that there wouldn’t be anyone outside the group to socialise with – however it certainly seems like a possibility…

  11. Ian, I’ve just written a journal for my CYM course on the use of Instant Messaging in YM. I know it’s not directly related to the original topic, but it’s in the general area ;o)
    Drop me a mail and let me know if you’d like a copy.
    R

  12. Ian I am not going to Matrix but I will be interested in reading your session on this subject. Some young people mine included spend hours and hours on the sites. Is it me or do the profiles bare little resemblance to the person.As I once said to my daughter, ” Whose that on the screen?” “Its me!” she said ” Really, you look different in black and white, looking out over the horizon, with that serious look on your face”. The good news is I have been taught how to alter my own photos and now I look ten years younger.Really interested in the comments.Big Hi to Dave my first comment was last weekish.

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