How to make teens feel at home at your church — online

Emily Kantner, communications specialist at Elexio, explains how

When potential youth group members visit the church’s website, what will capture their attention?

If they see pictures and videos of other teens participating in activities that look like fun, they’ll probably want to join in and have a blast. Simple, relevant content and a modern look will capture their attention.

And, make it easy to find — either its own website, accessible from the church’s homepage, or through the church’s mobile app.

When building a seeker-friendly youth group website, are there any “no-no’s”?

A youth group website shouldn’t include the same information you’d see in a parent’s brochure. If they read, ‘We make sure our teens put down their smartphones and disconnect from the world for two hours during youth group, you can bet they’ll run in the opposite direction.

Don’t make rules — and what they can’t do — the focus. Instead, tell teens about all the cool stuff they’ll be missing out on if they don’t come.
Also make sure you’re keeping information up-to-date and simple. Avoid church terms like ‘cell groups’ or ‘life groups’; just be straightforward and call them
small groups.

Keep it light and fun, yet simple. The serious issues should be addressed somewhere else.

Is it fair to say that ensuring youth members’ continued involvement depends a lot on keeping them engaged throughout the week?

It can certainly help. Teens already have packed schedules with school, sports and part-time jobs. While they might not have the extra time throughout the week for activities, most teens spend a large amount of their time online — but probably on social media rather than a youth group website.

Although they might not see everything posted on a youth group’s Facebook page, they’re likely to engage there first — for now. Other social media outlets (Snapchat, Vine, Instagram and Twitter) are making a move to become the place to establish community.

It’s also important to encourage them to engage with each other and build those relationships throughout the week, even if it’s offline.

As existing youth group members visit their website, what are they hoping to find there?

They might be going to the website to check out photos and videos, sign up for activities, and stay updated on what’s happening within the group. Including links to social accounts so they can connect on those channels is important — this is where they’ll really form relationships.

Based in Elizabethtown, PA, Elexio provides church management software, website content management, website design and more.

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