News Flash: Teenagers use social media. A lot. 96% of Canadians ages 15-24 are using social media. Youth workers know that the overuse of social media is a problem among students. As a society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the negative affects of addiction to social media. Thankfully, there are some great resources available to help assess and address our compulsion need to monitor our feed.

However, while youth workers should continue doing our best to pry our students attention away from their snap storylet’s not miss out on the opportunity to leverage social media for good.

The reality is, our students are engaging with social media on a daily basis, and that means our youth ministries have an opportunity to speak into their lives.

Consider this – most youth ministries have the attention of our students for 2-3 hours each week. In that window of time we are hoping to communicate a message that will impact the lives of our students throughout the rest of their week.

What if we saw social media as a platform to reinforce those messages?

This is an opportunity to encourage students to live differently around their friends while they are actually in their school. We can nudge them to spend some time in scripture as they get their day started. We can remind them that God is always with them as they go about their everyday lives.

The bottom line is simple: youth workers have an opportunity to leverage social media to spark spiritual growth in students. Here are two ways to make that happen:

1 – Reinforce the messages from your gatherings   Your gatherings are memorable. Your messages are impactful. Social media gives you an opportunity to echo the big ideas and help them stick in the hearts and minds of your students.

2 – Prompt spiritual habits   If your youth ministry has identified some basic discipleship habits for your students, use social media as a way to prompt your students to live those out. In our youth ministry, we’ve identified 4 areas of discipleship that we want our students to grow in: #LoveGod #KnowGod #FollowGod #LoveOthers. We talk about these discipleship areas in our gatherings, but we really want our students to grow in these areas throughout the week. We reinforce this idea with the tagline: #LakeviewOnTheGo. We want our students to understand that these are important areas of our spiritual journey that happen between our gatherings.

If you haven’t identified discipleship habits in your youth ministry…maybe now is a good time to try.

Like it or love it…social media is major part of the world our students are immersed in. Let’s embrace the opportunity to leverage social media for something good, because there is a great opportunity to fuel the spiritual growth of our students. Go claim it!

PS: Using an app like Word Swag makes it easy to create beautiful images that will grab your students’ attention and prompt them to embody those spiritual habits. For other tips on productivity apps, make sure to check out this post from Jeremy MacDonald.