by Scott Bond Jr.
The Hashtag Youth Series (http://hashtagyouthseries.com) was a project born out of both passion and desperation. Passion for young people to know Christ. Desperation for teaching talent/resources that were gospel-centered and graphically appealing.
The idea was to put 12 HD-video messages online for groups to watch during Bible classes. Afterward, they would respond and share responses via social media networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo). We wanted to create conversation around the person and work of Jesus Christ, so a team of 12 of intensely passionate, creative, and talented youth ministers came to our building at Spring Meadows to film these 12 video messages. Each speaker made their lesson:
- Connect with young people. They began with an illustration, story, prop, or culturally relevant topic to grab attention quick.
- Graphic and visual. The quality of design and visual appeal greatly enhanced and amplified the content presented.
- Fluid. They kept the message moving. Each video was between 10-15 minutes long which meant every minute was packed with meaning.
- Christ-centered. The speakers started and ended with Jesus. We wanted lessons that connected our young people to the person, work, and name of Jesus Christ.
- “Tweetable.” Each main point was kept simple. Speaking to young people we knew theology has to be understandable. So they compressed their main points into concise memorable statements.
- Applicable. Once they made a point from Scripture, they demonstrated what it meant. And why it matters. And why it makes a difference in everyday life.
- Reflective. Since one of our main focus was on group response, we wanted to get students thinking. We released study guides, discussion questions, and assigned hashtags to each lesson so students could articulate what they learned and believed from the lesson taught.
The success of the project was outstanding. We measured success in five ways.
- God’s Word was taught boldly and faithfully. The messages were true to Scripture and confident in face of youth culture.
- The number of participating churches. Surpassing our expectations, over 250 churches, with over 5,000 students represented, on 4 different continents registered to present these gospel-centered videos to their young people.
- The types of churches registered. We saw every flavor of denomination using the material in their Bible classes. Methodist, Baptist, Wesleyan Lutheran, Assembly of God, Christian, and Community churches.
- The young people’s response. We saw thousands of tweets, status updates, Instagram pictures, and #hashtags from individual students discussing and sharing biblical truth. Lives were changed and students confessed, repented, and were baptized.
- The statistics. The series ended with 252 churches, 5365 students, 27 states, 10 countries. 15,371 unique visitors on the website. 9,293 tweets. And 12,895 people reached on Facebook. Over 26,076 video views means somebody is hearing the gospel truth about Jesus Christ.
The future of the Hashtag Youth Series hangs in the balance. While we made the videos and resources completely free to the public, they were not cheap to produce. The church at Spring Meadows made a large contribution to the launching of the project. If we can gain support from brotherhood churches, here are a few of the things we envision.
- Production of an annual video series
- Publishing ebooks, magazine, book, and workbooks
- Train young men into ministry and Christ-centered preaching
- Host a National Youth Conference Event featuring Hashtag speakers
- Hiring staff for web, video, and speaking talent
- Present scholarships for participation toward education in Bible/ministry
On October 1st, 2012, our store (http://hashtagmedia.us) was launched for the sale of digital class, camp, retreat, and VBS material downloads. The money from each purchase will go toward our vision for the future of the series. We are also seeking financial support from congregations who would like to see the series continue.
We have many people to thank for making all of it happen. Elders at the Spring Meadows Church of Christ in Spring Hill, TN (Vision, Support, & Blessing), Kaci Bond (My Wife’s Love & Encouragement), Dale Jenkins (Co-Brainstormer & Hashtag Enthusiast), Youth Leaders Everywhere (Commitment & Partnership), Daniel Howell (Audio/Video Recording, Editing & Production), Chad Landman (Website Development), Joey Sparks (Social Media Development & Presence), Philip Jenkins (Leader Guide Publishing), Scott Utter (Friendship & Creative Inspiration), Garrett Todd (T-shirt Design & Ordering), Each Hashtag Speaker (Passion & Creativity), Freed-Hardeman University (Community & Network), Brittnea Dye and Ale Yegros (Spanish translation & Content) Young People Across the World (Faith & Response)
We give glory to God for the success of this project, and pray for blessing to ministries across the world for God’s glory. "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!" (Psalm 96:3).
Scott Bond serves as the youth minister for the Spring Meadows Church of Christ in Spring Hill, TN. He can be reached at email@example.com.