When I was in eighth grade, my language arts took us through a unit on poetry. (Guess what? I’m now working at my old junior high, with my language arts teacher!) I really enjoyed writing, and I kept writing long after the unit. I wrote poetry well on into college, where I also began to write essays. After I got married, I started blogging and loved it! Then, a year ago, I got an awesome chance to write for some Gandalf-loving geeks called ChurchMag. Short story shorter: I love writing and blogging!
Now that I’m a junior high teacher, I’m taking every chance I can to encourage my students to try writing. To that end, I’m using my extension class (an extra class at the end of the day where we teach students different academic skills) to teach my student writing through blogging.
Last month, we created a WordPress blog—powered by Standard Theme!—and got to work. I’ve given them pointers about what to use to write (Evernote), how to get inspired, (showed a clipped from Finding Forrester-“You’re the man now, dog!”), and the different types of posts (editorials, reviews, etc.). The results of this experiment has been mixed. Some student love it, while others love that their homework is to play video games and write a short review.
After a few weeks, I’ve begun to wonder about how blogging could help in youth ministry. How much more likely are our students to be engaged by what their peers share about living life for Christ than what we “dinosaurs” share?
I don’t know about about you, but I’m always looking for ways to increase student involvement in the actual ministry of the group. Blogging seems like a perfect way to do that, and here are a few different ways I might use students as bloggers.
Honestly, nothing beats the tried and true testimony, the “how I met Jesus” story we all have. This is a great way to get your students to think about their own salvation, when it happened, what they were going through when it happened, and how they have or haven’t allow Jesus to continue that work within them. Other students will be encouraged to share their own story, and eventually, you could have some seriously vocal “testifiers” in your group.
It’s one thing for you to tell your students that something is inappropriate or wrong, but it’s wholly different if one of their own calls them out on their media hypocrisy. Of course, structuring this might be difficult—would the reviewer have to watch/listen to/read the inappropriate media before reviewing? Maybe if he or she wanted to actually comment on the value of the media as a work of art, but that’s not the objective. When you know a movie is wrong because it’s plot relies upon near pornagraphic sex/nudity, graphic violence, etc., you don’ t have to actually see those things to label them as wrong. (I’ve never seen an act of genocide take place, but I know its wrong.)
I’ve written before about how boring announcements can be, so why not pawn this albatross off on a creative student? Empower them to make a video trailer or wild poster/logo that can be shared via the group blog. Why not turn your weekly announcements into a video blog series featuring some crazy characters dreamed up by your students?
These are just the first few things that popped into my head. I’m sure there are tons of other ways to use students in a concerted blog approach. Of course, blogging may not be the option for your group. The idea is not that we need blogging, but that we need a method by which our students can be engaged in encouraging their peers and in thinking about their own faith in a constructive and creative way.
Do you have students blog in your youth group?
What problems might you foresee in doing this?
What might be the payoff?
[Image via Johan Larsson]