LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE:
“Incarnational Ministry” Did I lose anyone yet?
Before you go dust off your lexicon, you probably already know and embrace this characteristic. In the Gospels, we see Jesus going to be with the people He encounters. So if our ministries are going to mirror Christ’s incarnational life, we’re required to go and be with the people we’re ministering to. And if you and I were youth pastors in the 90s, we would probably be found at the mall, sitting near the Chinese restaurant that’s handing out the free samples of their bourbon chicken and browsing Hot Topic on your way out.
However, if your town is anything like mine, the mall I just described is a shell of its former self. So where are all the teenagers hanging out?
- According to Generation Z statistics, 45% of teenagers report they are online almost constantly.
- 24% of teens report feeling discomfort if they have to go more than one hour without access to the Internet.
- On average, a Gen Z user allocates 2 hours and 55 minutes a day just to social media.
Let’s be honest. The mall has gone to our pockets. It lives on our phones, and the students we’re trying to reach spend their time there. Regardless of your opinion on whether or not this amount of screen time and social media consumption is healthy (probably not), it’s where our students are spending their time.
Here’s a question for you. If in the 90s, you would have gone to hang out at the mall to connect with teens, how, in 2023, are you showing up where they are? I’m not proposing that digital church replaces in-person experiences. Far from it. But if your students go home after school and spend almost 3 hours on their phones, couldn’t you make an impact with your students online?
Here are some ideas for how to do that:
- Share a devotional thought
- Dive deep into an encouraging passage of Scripture
- Have fun and funny posts
- Film answers to theological questions
- Encourage spiritual practices and disciplines
- Share recap posts or videos
- Give shoutouts to your leaders and volunteers
- Quiz them on their Bible knowledge
Those are just to name a few…
I don’t know your context, but one thing I want you to notice is that not one single idea mentioned above was an advertisement for an event. What if we could use social media to encourage students to take the next steps in their faith, engage with you or your ministry, and challenge them to a deeper and more meaningful walk with Jesus? It’s not just another communication platform. It’s a means to accomplish a more incarnational form of ministry.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How are you currently using social media to be with your students?
- What worries or fears do you have about using social media in your ministry?