YSNetwork.com – A Review | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
December 2011

YSNetwork.com – A Review

By Chris Wilterdink

If any of you attended the National Youth Worker’s Convention from Youth Specialties this year, you probably were among the first wave of folks to experience the YS Network. At first glance, YSnetwork.com appears to act very similarly to many other social media sites. Therefore you may be asking yourself, “Why do I need to add another site to my already overloaded tech plate?” While I don’t know if I can answer that for you, I can provide a quick review of the network as well as it’s benefits and/or limitations for use in your ministry. Please feel free to check out YSnetwork.com and let me know some of your own thoughts!

Benefits Limitations:

The YS Network has a growing application library that fills your ‘ME’ page with blog entries from useful ministry sources including devotions, calendars, volunteer opportunities, and even your personal Facebook feed. While blog subscriptions are not a new invention, the variety of items made available for use in your ministry can be helpful.

The YS Network allows users to join or create their own specific networks. This means you could have the resources of a Christian social media site at your finger tips, while separating your ‘networks’ by label, much like in Google Plus. If you are in a ministry setting without the funds or knowledge to run your own website the tools available within the networks settings could prove very helpful. Tabs for volunteering, calendars, photo sharing, a prayer wall, and a discussion board could be easy to use for youth and for youth workers alike.

The “Community” tab allows users to join in conversations with other youth workers across the country, and perhaps across the world. This can help youth workers not feel isolated and have access to personal and professional conversations about ministry.

The “Resources” tab is not yet functioning, but it looks like YS will be linking their store to the YS Network, allowing purchases and reviews of items.

The YS Network is another site to log on to, and much of it’s content (apart from individually added conversations) appears to originate from other sites. For youth workers who already feel strapped for time, this may feel like just one more thing to monitor and take care of.

As with all social media sites, the more users a network has, the more powerful of a tool it becomes. If you can get your youth group/parents/church, etc. to join and check out your network regularly it could work for you. The YS Network is really only limited by the users who provide input to the system. You may need to check it out yourself to see if there are perspectives that you find useful.

In closing, the largest benefit I can identify for the YS Network is the clear boundary that it draws in an often very gray area of interactions via social media. As a network designed for use by youth workers specifically, it does help frame all interactions – while on the network – as professional and ministry-based. This could help clear up some of the inconsistencies that happen on Facebook, Twitter, etc. when groups of contacts/photos/information overlap a youth worker’s personal and professional life. YSnetwork.com is worth a look, but again, as with all social media platforms – it’s usefulness will in large part be determined by its amount of active users.

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.