It is very easy to amass a great number of friends on Facebook. Between all the students, parents, people you met at camp, as well as coworkers, family members, and college friends, your friends list can easily become a jumbled mess of people you are connected to.
Facebook provides a way to categorize your friends using different lists. This is one of the most useful, and most often overlooked, features on the site. Using lists helps to streamline communication and improve your ability to do ministry online.
What are Lists?
Lists are an organizational tool. Like most efforts to organize, it takes more effort to setup, but will ultimately take less energy to maintain. You can put anyone on any list, or multiple lists. For instance, I have a list for currents students and I also have a list for people I know from church. Each of the people on my current students list are also on my church list.
I also have lists for teens from youth trips (when you go to a camp or convention and end up with 17 new “friends” that you met while there), fellow youth pastors, college friends, family, etc.
Why use Lists?
To steal a cliche, a place for everyone and everyone in their place. Lists allow you to filter your Facebook activity. Using Lists, I can show only status updates from current students. Instead of manually typing in each student’s name to see if they’ve posted something I can filter the news feed to show me only status updates, etc., from teens who are currently in my youth group. It makes keeping up to date much easier.
Have you ever set up an event, only to get to the dreaded “Send Invites” stage where you are overwhelmed trying to pick all the students from your many contacts? Using a list makes it a snap. Filter the contacts to your current students, select all, and bing, bang, boom you’re done. No more wondering if you missed someone, or invited your college roommate with an accidental click.
Facebook Chat is one of the main places I end up connecting with students. It’s a super-simple way to quickly check-in and remind them that we’re thinking of them even when it isn’t Sunday or Wednesday. However, it’s also possible to ge
t caught in a conversation when you don’t have the time. You hop online to check an event time and you spend 20 minutes trying to end a conversation.
With Lists you are able to appear online or offline to different people based on they’re list. If I want to go on Facebook and chat with a college friend, but don’t want to risk getting caught by a parent or student on my day off, I just turn chat on for my college friends, and not everyone else.
Setting Up Lists
Lists are incredibly easy to set up. Start by clicking the “Friends” tab on the left sidebar, just under your profile picture. Next, you will see a list of all your Facebook friends. In the upper-right corner of that list you’ll see a button to “Create a List” which, shockingly, is how you create a list.
A new window will pop up where you can name the list (i.e. Parents) and select everyone you want on that list. Now is the time to get out that roster and make sure you get everyone. Fortunately, Facebook will highlight those already on the list, so you’re less likely to click somebody twice.
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that nobody else knows about your lists. So if you make a list called “People I want to punch in the face” and add your roommate who snored all the time, they won’t know about it.
There you have it. Lists is one of the most convenient methods for organizing your Facebook contacts, and can make it much simpler to check-in on your students as they share their lives online.
Check back soon for Part 2 of “Using Facebook for Ministry.”
This post was inspired by “Youth Ministry Topics You Should Cover” on www.studentministry.org