One of the most difficult things in youth ministry is finding time to communicate effectively with students and parents. This can cause a big issue because whether it is something as simple as people knowing important information about an event, or as big as helping students and parents grow spiritually or understand the vision you have for the youth ministry, clear and consistent communication will be a key to success.
Tools exist but many are too expensive and too complicated. That is why I was so excited the day that I came across Google Classroom. Google Classroom is free, it is easy to use, and it boasts powerful communication options.
If you have not been following our Google Classroom for Youth Ministry Series you can go back and view those posts to get caught up. But I would start by reading this post because it may just give you the motivation you need to implement this in your ministry.
There are 3 primary ways to communicate through Google Classroom.
I went over the Google Classroom post types along with detailed steps on how to use them and helpful guidance on the best uses for each type. So here I am just going to give a quick synospsis.
- Announcement – Think Facebook post or tweet. The difference is your students, leaders and parents get an email notification every time you post.
- Discussion Question – Build your own discussion forum for engaging Bible study or for getting input and/or feedback on a youth ministry event or change.
- Quiz – If you want, you can go as far as creating a Google form quiz that is automatically graded for you. I could see this being valuable for student leadership teams, mission trip teams with required preparation and training, or for leader trainings.
- Assignment – This is pretty cool. You could share your Bible study or other curriculum to select groups of students and be able to know whether they actually completed it or not.
You can send emails to the whole group or targeted students or parents. This may seem insignificant but it is not. Here are two reasons.
- Companies spend countless hours and dollars strategizing how to capture email addresses. Plus, schools are spending more and more time not only making sure students have email accounts but also that they check them and use them properly. All that adds up to email is still a powerful messaging tool for everything from marketing(getting kids and parents to buy in to your vision and come to events) to relationship building(everything else in ministry).
- With Google classroom you are almost guaranteed your emails get delivered. I say this because you may pay for a messaging platform at your church. But every time there are updates in web security and email systems change their expectations for delivery and acceptance of messages, you risk that system becoming obsolete. But Google classroom basically runs on Gmail so you can know they are monitoring and making the changes necessary to keep your emails going to inboxes and not spam….for free.
This may be the crown jewel. Okay, it is at least the reason I got excited about the applications of Google Classroom in youth ministry. While you can create separate groups for leaders, parents, and students and make them the students in the class, you can also invite guardians for your students and input their parents’ emails. If you do this they will get an automated report(that they can tweak the frequency of) that includes any announcements, assignments, and anything their child was supposed to complete and did not. Imagine how this makes you look that parents are getting a transparent weekly report of everything happening in your ministry and how you are investing in their child.
I do think that this tool has powerful uses for discipleship as far as sharing youth ministry resources, tracking progress, and having a discussion. But if nothing else. the communication tools alone make this tool worth having a look at for how it might effectively be applied in your youth ministry.