I saw an article in the Seattle Times this morning that made me immediately think about Youth Ministry. In the article teachers speak to the positive sides of students using blogs, texting and collaborative online tools. In the opinion of teachers students got high marks for how the organize their thoughts, use style and tone and put together their papers.
But the article points out problems too. “Creeping Informality” is slowly taking over. Teachers recognize it when it students begin to abbreviate words and use text slang style in their written assignments. This informality has begun to erode the positive side of the texting movement as students are beginning to show signs of inability to process information outside of bite size chunks and longer projects are a major struggle.
This article made me think about how I interact with people and communicate. I text a lot. It’s my primary tool for staying connected to my family ministry team and to a number of students. It’s an easy way of passing on information quickly and having a discussion but it isn’t the best way. I find so many times that I have to write out how I am “feeling” as I text that so that the receiver of the message can know how to best read what I’m saying. And informal conversation like this can get us into trouble as we are way more likely to fire off something quick that we don’t really think through before sending.
Creeping Informality has plaged the Youth Ministry world for years. I’m a fairly informal dresser (said while wearing a camp t-shirt and sweats) and often find myself just a little bit too underdressed for situations. I like to put my feet on my desk too because I find I just think better leaning back. But I think all of us realize that we need to be careful about how informal we are. Texting your senior pastor when there is a major youth ministry crises is probably not the best route to go. Sending a passive aggressive e-mail to a parent is both wrong and likely going to just push off the problem so it’ll blow up in your face later.
So here’s just a couple of quick thoughts to push us all:
1. How much do you use text to deal with issues you are uncomfortable talking about face to face?
2. Do you feel that you have been too informal in conversations with co-workers, parents or students?
3. How has being overly informal in what you wear hurt you?
4. Are there ways we can help students engage faith study in longer chunks breaking them free of their bite sized texting thoughts?
There you go. I’m thinking through these questions too.