The first cell phones were introduced to the common consumer in the early 1990’s with high cost and bulkiness mainly for use in cars. In 2007, everything changed with the introduction of the first iPhone. Today, almost everyone has a smartphone of some kind that is used for practically everything. Technology has advanced so far that it is inescapable and our society leans on it heavily. This is especially true for our younger generation, which is involved in social media and carry phones 24/7.
A big question for student pastors today in churches is to understand proper etiquette when it comes to cell phones for their youth groups. This is not easy territory to navigate as many parents have different rules and guidelines within their own households too. The culture seems to be shifting some in schools as some teachers are now starting to allow cell phone use in the classroom. Many educators are choosing to “steer into the skid” and actually empower kids to use this source of infinite knowledge in their pockets. So – is it time for the church to stop fighting cell phones in student ministry? Here are some thoughts to consider when allowing cell phones to be used:
1. Be real with kids. Let them know that you are open to using cell phones to enhance the group experience, but that you still expect them to be respectful and to not abuse the freedom.
2. Have them look up facts, websites or photos that can be used as examples.
3. Encourage them to take photos of important information so they don’t lose or forget it.
4. Using the Bible app is awesome with all the translations and resources available to dig deeper into a verse or books in the Old and New Testament.
5. Remind the students that using their cell phone is a privilege in your youth group and that your rules and guidelines are to be respected.
Teenagers do not want to be treated like babies. Your progressive thought on this subject might attract even more of your students’ friends to visit your church. Obviously, this is new territory for many student leaders in churches and should be discussed with volunteer leadership well ahead of execution to make sure all are on the same page. Good parameters shared up front with parents and students should lay the groundwork for success in engaging teenagers in the culture that they are apart of everyday in the 21st century.