Kenney, David

It used to be that building an online presence for your youth ministry was expensive and somewhat difficult to maintain, but not anymore. Say goodbye to the dot-corn and hello to the blog-a simple forum-style Web site that enables visitors to comment on what’s posted.

Blogs are to dot-corns what MP3 players are to Walkmans. So even if you have a regular Web site, think about having a blog site too, for the sake of building an online community.

Begin by checking out one of the free blogging sites, such as blogspot.com or blog.com, and setting up an account. It takes hardly any time at all to get started. I write up my stories, articles, and news in a word processing program and then just cut and paste these into the online blog editor. Once you have a template and a few articles, you’ll see how easy it is.

Remember to keep it simple. Your students will use the site if it has current information, and so will their parents. A blog lets you delete old announcements and create new ones with just a click of a button. It won’t take you more than a half hour a week to have a successful site that’s professional looking and user-friendly. Here are a few creative “launching points” for you:

* Books-Post information about the books that you use for lessons. I include a link where kids can buy the books online.

* Reviews-Let students know what you think about the media and music you’re into. If you can pull a spiritual truth from the latest blockbuster, do an online lesson.

* Lessons-Post all your lessons so kids who missed a day or who just want copies can access them.

* Links-Create links to sites that you and your students visit. Find an online Bible Web site and an online devotional site. Be sure to include fun stuff, too-links to bands, record labels, popular TV shows, and so on.

* Feedback-Encourage kids to post their thoughts and concerns. You’ll need to be diligent about checking the site often, but this is what makes the site a community. You’ll find that the more you update and advertise the site, the more often kids will visit.

DAVID KENNEY Los Angeles, California

Copyright Group Publishing, Inc. Nov/Dec 2005

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