Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Improving Your Between Class-time Communication

I'm a big advocate of contacting people in your regular class or group outside of your "scheduled" meeting time. It keeps momentum going, builds relationships, gives you insights into how well people are understanding what you've been teaching, and lets you dribble out extras and related information that you didn't have time to cover when you met. You can also be giving people previews about what's coming, to build their expectations.

(Candidly, I write about this strategy better than I've been doing it lately, so I'm planning to sharpen my serve in the future.)

Now, how do you do this?

First, you need to commit yourself to doing it. Public commitment is even better. I find it helps a great deal when I tell a class "I will send you more information on this by Wednesday night."

Second, you need to decide which communication medium you will use.

Telephoning people is an inefficient process, but you will have good opportunities for in-depth conversation if you do this. But if your group is more than a handful, it's hard.

Email works fairly well, even for large classes.

Twitter and text messaging are limited to 140 characters. That's just not enough to convey much information beyond a few encouraging words, or a link to a website.

I used to advise people to create blogs, but few people seemed willing to try this strategy.

I know some people have created closed community sites with tools like Ning.

I think the most interesting new tool is Facebook.

I'm not using Facebook myself, but have many family and friends who do. Bob Mayfield gives some excellent tips for using Facebook this way in this article.

You can also look at this excellent free ebook, Facebook for Pastors, by Chris Forbes.

One of the big challenges is that everyone in the group or class needs to be versant with the communication tool. If not everyone is now, perhaps you can create incentives to help them get going. Line up your youth to help the "techno-dunces" and laggards.

Does your teaching ministry suffer if you don't have all these communication tools? Not necessarily. Remember, that it is the Holy Spirit who must be at work in people's hearts and minds to transform their lives. No amount of technology makes up for the answers to our fervent prayer!

P.S. If you're using Facebook, in ministry, comment below to let us all know how well it's working, and any tips you have.

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