It this age of social media, staying in touch with our youth via email is now consider archaic. Facebook is yesterday's news and texting only allows for the simplest of messages. Want to really be cutting edge? Go "old school" on your youth and reach out to them with something they probably would never expect: the personal touch. Rather than hiding behind social media, try making contact with some of your youth each week through one of these low-tech options:
1) Phone Call - Why not select a few of your youth each week and surprise them with a quick phone call? You might be able to tell a whole lot more from the tone of their voice than you ever could reading a tweet. Just take a few minutes to check in on them and let them know you were thinking about them.
2) Affirmation Letter - Show you really know your teens. On a regular sheet of paper, write a student's name down the left margin of the page in large letters. Use each letter to write out a word or phrase that describes that teen's best gifts and qualities. Another option is simply to write their name in the center of the page and then surround that name with all sorts of positive words to describe them. (And, if you like to doodle like me, consider adding a little piece of original art to the page!) Next, just stick it in an envelope and mail it, no message necessary because the affirmation letter will say it all.
3) Visit - At my last church, I actually took time at the start of my ministry to do home visits with all of the youth. To be sure, some of the teens (and their families) were shocked and a little suspicious about why the youth pastor was visiting them at home. No pastor had ever done that before! But what a difference it made to just drop by for 15 minutes and see those teens in their home environment. If home visits aren't convenient, take some time to meet one-on-one with your youth at a local coffee shop or restaurant.
4) Pray - Keep a prayer calendar with different students' names written on each day of the month. Take time each day to stop and pray for a few of your youth, focusing both on why you are grateful for their presence in your ministry and how you might be called to help them in their walk of faith.
5) Prayer Postcard - When you finish praying, simply write out a quick postcard letting the teen know you prayed for him or her and drop it in the mail. Trust me -- it will make a difference in their lives to know they are connected to you and God through prayer even during their busy weeks at school.
Any other low-tech ideas to share?