Every week on Wednesday night, without fail, at least one of the yw asks, “What are we doing for Mutual?” or another classic that I hear on Sundays – “I didn’t come to Mutual because I didn’t know what we were doing”
I try to make this information as readily available as possible (and in as many formats as possible). They (and their parents) should be see and/or be able to access this information at any time during the week. Here are the (many!) ways we provide information to the YW in our ward:
Sunday Sacrament meeting bulletin/program: We often submit information about our YW Mutual activity for the week, especially if it is something special or at an unusual time/location. This is not read over the pulpit, it is part of the program that is handed out for the meeting.
Newsletter/Calender (handed out or mailed): Our YW secretary puts together a monthly newsletter and prints a copy of the monthly calendar on the back side. The newsletter/calendar for the upcoming month is passed out to the yw (and a separate copy for their parents) at church on the last Sunday of the month. For girls who are absent that Sunday (or who aren’t active in church), she sends a copy to their home.
Bulletin Board: We have a small bulletin board in the hallway – our YW Secretary puts a copy of the newsletter and the calendar on this bulletin board so it can be seen by anyone (i.e., parents or yw who have lost their copy, which happens frequently!)
YW Class Announcements: The class president who is contacting YW Sunday Class Opening Exercises announces what the Mutual activity is for the week (or asks the various classes to say what their activities are if they are separate class activities). This is a good time to mention if they need to wear special clothing or bring anything. I also try to mention (frequently) that friends are welcome to attend Mutual any time, so hopefully they keep that in mind during the week.
Handouts on Sunday: If you are really trying to boost attendance or promote a specific activity, handouts (advertising your activity) are a good way to do that. I’ve done handouts on occasion, but found that most of them were just left behind in the classroom, so I don’t normally do these. If you attach a piece of candy or something, they will spend more time looking at it and maybe even actually take it home as a reminder! For the most part, we have a pretty regular Mutual attendance rate, so we normally only do handouts/invites for special things like our YWIE Young Women in Excellence or Mothers Day Activity.
Mutual Opening Exercises:We normally announce any activity going on over the next week during Mutual Opening Exercises. We have some kids who only attend Mutual, so we hope that hearing what we’re doing the following week will be an incentive to come the next week.
Facebook group: We have a private Facebook group just for young women in our ward, parents of young women in our ward, and YW leaders in our ward. This was ok’d by our Bishop, as long as everything remains private and the group (posts, photos, etc) are not available to the public. We post information about activities, reminders, etc on this group page. Some of the girls don’t use Facebook (which is fine, we make it clear that it is optional) and some just don’t want to be part of the group (also fine, although I wish they would, because even if they opted out of the post notifications, they would still have the option to access the information any time they had a question – such as “what are we doing for Mutual?”) We also post photos from our activities (and girls camp, etc) on this group page and that works well because then the girls aren’t embarrassed by other people seeing the photos.
Facebook general: Since we have some girls who don’t want to participate in our private Facebook group, I also post via my regular Facebook feed (on Tuesday or Wednesday every week) with information about the Mutual activity for the week. Same goes for info about youth dances, conference registrations, etc. I customize the postings to be visible to people in our ward only. This way, it can double as information/extra reminder for the YM when it applies to them as well.
Twitter: I opened a Twitter account specifically for Mutual announcements for our ward. Most of the YW who use Twitter seemed hesitant to follow me, so I promised that I only post once a week (on Wednesday morning) and I only post about Mutual. I’ve made this information available to the YW and their parents, but so far I only have 2 followers, and one of them is one of the YM leaders!
Phone calls/texts: If there is a change of plans or there is something specific that they need to remember (like a parent-permission slip), it is a good idea to do a phone-tree. We don’t do this for every activity, but like I said, we have a big turnout for Mutual. If you have a problem with attendance or want to encourage specific girls to attend, a phone call would be a great reminder that you’re doing something awesome and you want them there! I like to ask the class presidents to do this (or have them assign it to a presidency member), instead of having the leaders do the calling. But of course, then you’ll need to follow up and make sure it actually gets done. Sometimes they text reminders to each other, and thats fine with me as long as they get the message somehow!
Emails: On Tuesdays I send out an email with information for the week for anyone who doesn’t use Facebook and others who don’t regularly attend church (but attend Mutual) so that they will know what to expect for the week.
This is a huge list and yes, sometimes it does feel like it might be overkill. I try to organize and delegate as much as possible so that its not overwhelming to one person or one day of the week. However, for a girl who doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter, and doesn’t regularly come to church, a phone call or the newsletter/calendar may be the only way to reach her. For a girl who lost her newsletter/calendar, Facebook might be the only way she’ll look up the information. Or for a parent who is trying to encourage their daughter to attend Mutual, a reminder (after seeing an announcement in the Sacrament meeting bulletin/program or a post on Facebook) that you are doing a fun activity this week might be the encouragement they need to attend.
Am I coddling the YW by doing so much to provide the information for them? I don’t see it that way. I want to enable them to find the information themselves if they choose.
Now whenever someone asks me, “What are we doing for Mutual?” I now say, “We’re doing ____________. Did you know that we post on Facebook and Twitter what the activities are every week?” or “We’re doing______________. Did you lose your YW newsletter/calendar? Because if you did, you can always check the bulletin board if you’re ever not sure whats coming up!”.
I’m sure to mention that they are always welcome to ask questions, but want to make sure that they know what resources are available to them
If you have a question you’d like to ask for a future “Random Question Thursday,” please post it in the comments of this blog post, OR you can post it on my Jolly Rogers Young Women Facebook Group page (search for “Jolly Rogers Young Women” on Facebook – you must request to join the group). Thanks for your input!