#Hashtag is intentionally flexible to meet your ministry’s needs.
Each week, beginning May 23rd, videos will be available at 9 AM (Central). You have the option to directly download the video to your computer or stream them through YouTube or Vimeo. In addition to the video, we’ll also provide activities and questions for discussion.
We’re releasing the videos on Wednesdays, but you can show them any day at any time.
Get creative with how you use them: Show the video (10-15 mins) and use the rest of your class time for discussion and application. You can choose to only show the video in your group and then facilitate discussion online throughout the week. Or have students watch lessons prior to attending your discussion sessions each week. You need to do what’s best to reach your students as effectively as possible. #Hashtag’s format makes that possible.
Because #Hashtag videos are the primary source of teaching each week, use your energy to: 1) create exciting environments in which to view them and 2) inspire authentic discussion, application, and most importantly action in your students’ lives.
You may decide it’s best to use these weekly videos in your traditional Wednesday night Bible Study times (or Sunday AM class, just the same). If you do, here are 20 tips to make it happen:
Creating Social Media Environments:
1. Advertise your meetings. Start talking it up about a month before your first meeting. Use every arena possible: bulletins, announcements, flyers, business cards, and so on.
2. Focus on social media. You best accomplish #Hashtag’s purposes by generating online excitement. Post regularly to Facebook and Twitter. Saturate your students’ (and their potential guests’) timelines with reminders about this great opportunity.
3. Provide details. When you first heard about #Hashtag, you naturally had questions about how it works. Assume some students will ask similar questions. If you choose to leave details secretive for suspense, be sure you’re not creating confusion by leaving out too much.
4. Eliminate steps for students. Write social media posts and send them privately to your students. Encourage them to copy & paste as their statuses. Put paper flyers, postcards, or business cards in their hands to pass out.
5. Leverage social media-saavy students. Challenge students who “get” social media to generate momentum for your #Hashtag efforts. Use them write posts for #4 above. Use their feedback to reach as many people through the internet as possible.
6. Challenge your students to invite ______ friends each. Send invites via Facebook/Twitter, text messages, phone calls, and letters. Pray for each students’ potential guests by name.
7. Explain and repeat your vision for #Hashtag in your group. Tell your students early and often about the specific impact you have in mind for #Hashtag. Tie your vision to #Hashtag communications as much as possible.
8. Make a BIG DEAL about students bringing smartphones and tablets. Even though you already “allow” them in class, make sure students know you want them to post and interact online while watching and discussing sessions.
9. Keep online momentum going throughout the Summer. Promote the final session (and sessions in between) as much as you did the first session.
Creating Physical Environments:
10. Whether you download or stream, test videos each week. Don’t let the first time you play the video be with an audience. Measure how lighting affects your projector and screen. How will it look at the same time of day you show it to students? Check audio levels in your room. How will it sound with a roomful of students? Sit in every seat (or at least every angle) to see how it looks and sounds for every student.
11. Go BIG. Use the best projector and biggest screen, wall, or bed sheet at your disposal. Maybe a furniture or electronics store will rent you a large HD TV for the Summer. Quality portable speakers don’t have to be expensive. (We scored a nice pair of Bose speakers with AT&T Small Business Rewards points.) You don’t have to spend a fortune to make the experience memorable.
12. Decorate. Display #Hashtag banners. Print flyers. Use black drapes to focus everyone toward the screen.
13. Decide whether or not to provide food and drink. Do you provide dinner each week? Or just snacks and drinks? Or you might rather create a coffee shop atmosphere each week.
14. Create incentives for those who arrive early and/or bring guests. Provide rewards/giveaways each week or keep track over the Summer and give prizes at the end.
Discussing and Applying:
15. Decide ahead of time which questions and activities to emphasize. Read over important scriptures and add your own thoughts to the discussion. Yet another reason to test and preview videos each week.
16. Begin each session with follow-up from the previous week. What did the students notice online throughout the week? Display screenshots of great posts and comments from your students or others across the country.
17. Encourage posting during videos and in-class discussions. Remind them to make comments, quote worthy statements, link to powerful Bible passages during the lesson. If they use Twitter, show the power of hashtags. Remind them to include each week’s #Hashtag in their posts (and mention @HashtagYouth).
18. Give attention when it is due. Which of your students made the most #Hashtag posts? Who generated the most comments? Whose post had the most “likes” or re-tweets? Who had the most unique/funniest/thoughtful posts? Praise and reward their spiritual thoughtfulness.
19. Keep the conversation going throughout the week. Students will naturally create excitement during sessions and immediately following. So give them a push in the days between sessions. Balance conversations between thoughts from the previous week and previews for upcoming sessions.
20. Inspire students to act. Make sure students learn something each week. But especially make sure they act on what they learn. Is there something they’re–or we’re–not doing related to this lesson? Challenge them to do it. Make sure you don’t overlook a specific spiritual response to each lesson. Don’t let them leave without knowing the answer to “so what?” and how to act on it in their lives.
It’s our prayer these tips excite you about #Hashtag’s potential in your students’ lives. We appreciate all you do to reach students with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ!
What ways to make #Hashtag work for weekly studies would you add?