8 Ways to Invite and Include New Students

New students really matter to God.

Every new student in your club or youth ministry is a new opportunity to lead or keep a student in the faith. Now is a crucial time get plans going to get new students out to your program and get them connected right away.

1. Start with your church or churches

If you work with church youth or if you are in campus ministry there are many new churched students coming to high school, junior high, or middle school. They are somewhere in somebodies as system and you can connect them with your ministry.

One regional youth worker runs a youth group for 4 churches of 4 denominations. Zeb gets up front at each church and invites parents to meet him after the Sunday service. Some campus youth workers visit all of the churches that support them to get Christian students to join their clubs.

2. Find your new flock.

God is always drawing new students. He knows who are his and he is calling. They are out there. Pray that God will lead you to them.

Blake is a Young Life worker who has a knack for meeting middle of the road Freshmen. They aren’t super popular and they aren’t misfits. He is ready and waiting for them at new student orientation. His club actually sponsors the event and helps show new students around the school.

What can you do to identify new students who you or your leaders could connect with?

3. Invite the Community

Reika is the Director of Student Ministries at a large suburban church. She has always been frustrated with the number of students who attend the church but never come to youth meetings.

She started changing those numbers by working through the church data base and calling parents to invite them and their teen to the kick off youth night. She and her leaders went to the door of each of the families to drop off a flyer and youth bucks for youth candy shack. The first year she did this 100% of the students coming up to the youth ministry came out to the kick off event.

I can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results but I can guarantee that you get a higher percentage than you are now getting!

4Hold a Barbecue or Pizza Party

Mark inherited a burned over youth ministry. None of the church kids were interested and none of the community kids had heard of it. It was a complete do-over. He re-branded the ministry and invited the whole community to bbq in the park.

Sixty students showed up. He took names and numbers and invited all of them to the big kick off concert. Twenty-six new students showed up at the kick off concert. 4 Church kids even showed up late to check things out.

 5. Go the Extra Mile

“But we have invited them so many times!” Try again.

We give up too easily on students who have left our groups. Technically they are not “new” but we can make a new effort to connect with them.

Each new year we should make new attempts to invite students back to the group. So often they have left because they felt that were not accepted or unwelcome by students and leaders. That could be our fault because we were focused on other students or they did not seem to want to be part of what we were doing. Give them a chance to give you another chance!

If you have any old youth records now is the time to go over them. Give each of these students a personal invitation. Contact their parents too if possible. If they won’t come back, see if there is any way to serve them or their families. You may have to gain their trust one to one before they will return to the group.

6. Middle, Jr High or High School Prep Session

Some churches hold college prep sessions but don’t do anything for students headed to high school. Here’s a great opportunity to provide a service for students and parents. Provide food, door prizes, and have campus youth workers present as well.

Do what you can to connect students and families with your leaders. Provide excellent content at the session and use this opportunity to share the vision of the youth ministry and to invite students to your kick off event.Can you follow up on their first week of school?

7Going Up or Promotion Sunday

Some churches hold a graduation Sunday. Some hold a going up or promotion Sunday where students transition from the Sunday School to the Youth Program of the church. Here’s a great opportunity to reach out to all of the families with youth. It demonstrates the expectation that children become teens and enter the youth ministry.

Be sure to include existing youth group members when you do this. Symbolically they can surround and accept the new students. It is also a chance for them, and your leaders to recognize who the new students are.

8. Bring a Friend Contest

This is a natural time of year for students to invite friends to your kick off youth meeting. Students are still motivated by external rewards even something as simple as gift cards a fancy soda or a candy bar. Each student who brings a friend can get a treat with a grand prize going to the student who has the most friends return for 3 weeks.

Student s will be extra motivated if they can see the bigger picture and know that by inviting their friends new students will hear the gospel and eventually their friends will be bringing their friends to the youth group.

Do Some of These

I know you can’t do all of these. It would be exciting to see the results of doing as many of these as possible! For sure. please do one or two of them. Try to make every student in your community welcome to your club or your group!

What are Your ideas?

We have hundreds of readers who read this blog. They would love to hear your ideas for getting new students out now or at other times during the year. If you have a minute please leave a comment.

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com