Have you ever had students show up to youth group, and they look like a deer caught in headlights? They know no one, and feel super awkward.
We've definitely experienced this in our ministry, and especially with freshman. So we did a few things to help them out this year:
1. Freshman Frenzy. It's an event just for freshman where we get to love on them, and cater everything we do just for them. At this event we want to do two things: We want to connect them to the ministry, and to other students. This resource (This Book Gets Around) was a huge hit at this event. It allowed students to interact with each other without being awkward. We also had ways to get connected to the ministry on display.
2. Ten-Minute Party. This is a gathering for students who have brought a friend to church. Students are able to grab free snacks and info. And for fall kick-off we printed up some shirts that said (HSM Loves Your School). We gave them away to the student who brought a friend, and we gave one to the friend they brought. Some of the shirts were personalized to the five large schools that make up our ministry. Those went over really well.
3. 10 by 10. We take 10 minutes out of our large-group time, and we split students up by grades. We use this time to connect students to their peers in our ministry. They also get to connect with a leader and student leader.
The idea is to help students get connected. We oftentimes encourage students to bring their friends to church. which is great, but we also need to make sure their friend can get connected easily. So here are three questions to ask your volunteers and staff:
1. Are we doing a great job getting students connected? You need to have a process to plug students into, so they have the opportunity to connect with the ministry and other students.
2. Are we doing a great job at helping our students invite their friends? Sometimes we assume students know how to invite friends or share the gospel. Help them in these areas, because both are not as easy as we think.
3. Do we have a follow-up plan for the students who do come? We miss out when we don't follow up with the students who want to be connected.
Almost every student who walks into your ministry is a potential returner-turned-regular. I believe in order for that to happen we must become intentional, and we you can't give up. Keep trying new things until you find something that works for your ministry. What are you doing to connect students?
Aaron Crumbey oversees Pastoral Care for the high-school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ.
For the original article, visit simplyyouthministry.com.
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