So, my 13 year old daughter took off on the church youth mission trip with Center for Student Missions this morning, less that nine hours after I got home from seminary. Tonight, I got a phone call from another parent not on the trip to say that they arrived safely. Then I was told to call another person and keep the phone tree going. HMMM, I thought-phone tree in 2010? I asked this parent, who is very involved in the youth program, why doesn’t the youth director send out an email or simply update the church youth’s Facebook page so that parents can check it out anytime? The reply that I received was interesting…it takes too much time! Really? Two minute status update versus a 20 person calling tree? I understand that internet access can be a problem, but in this day and age someone somewhere will have internet.
How neat would it be for the youth director to Twitter or tweet updates or update Facebook so that parents and others can see the mission work happening in real time? OR…radical thought…allowing the youth to have time to update their statuses with mission work.
Caveat warning!! One would have to have strict rules about posting but most youth would understand this I think. What would be gained by allowing the world to see all of the mission done by the churches young people this summer all over the world?? Would the opinion of teenagers as a whole be altered and enhanced? Would our youth feel connected with their congregation and global church and not leave in droves?
These are all interesting questions that I think we need to consider before we write off social networking for telling your friends what you are having for dinner. Youth already have a sense of the power of social networking but need to be guided with how to navigate this power safely and with a sense of purpose. Connecting with our youth in these cyber spaces can, in my opinion, create a tight and supportive community in their daily lives.