Ways to Stop Losing Kids


One of the best ways to grow your group is to stop losing kids. And since every student is precious to God we really don’t want to lose a single one. Here are
3 simple practical ways
to make sure that kids keep coming back to youth.

Make immediate Connections 
Leith Anderson in his book “A church for the 21st Century” teaches that people are like lego pieces with about 8 possible connections. If a student does not make a positive connection to another youth, a group of youth or to a leader in the first few weeks they will not be coming back. Many groups use a registration system to track new comers but a phone call from the youth pastor that week or the next probably won’t be enough to get them connected.

Each new student must become the responsibility of one leader in your group. That leader needs to connect students to other new students (students who have been at your group since they were 11 are unlikely to adopt this new person). Leaders need to be lego builders who are helping to connect students to other students. If this does not happen a leader will need to take that student under their wing for a weeks until eventually they make a friend.

Follow Up Absentees Right Away
During hockey, or volleyball season, summer holidays, or exams, students can miss a lot of youth meetings. Does anyone miss them? Groups that have students assigned to a leader who calls students every week can keep the connection to the group alive. When a family gets out of the habit of dropping off kids at youth it is going to take some work to get them back in the habit again. Weekly calls from a leader make a difference. Recently a church in Edmonton put all of the adult leaders on the church phones from 4-6 pm on a Friday. The results were remarkable! Besides all of the prayer, counseling, and encouragement that took place on the phones the youth room started filling up early before start time and kids who had been away for weeks showed up.

Make Invitations
Do you expect kids to just come back week after week? Why? Because they are supposed to? In a perfect world that would be the case but most of us in ministry recognize that our world is anything but perfect. That is why we need to keep calling kids back by promoting activities, events but more importantly inviting kids back to youth. Recently I reread the story of the Good Shepherd going over fields and hills to find a lost sheep. (Luke 15:1-5) The Shepherd could have said “We are right here whenever you want to come back –and remember it is you who left –we didn’t make you leave!” Many groups have lists of inactive kids who used to come to the youth group. Going the extra mile to invite them back to a Christmas Banquet, a retreat, a mall hunt, car smash, or games night tells a youth that they are still considered members of the youth group no matter what they are up to.

If kids knew that they were truly welcomed, accepted, and missed when they are not there, it is likely they will be there more often and get a lot more out of your group.

Share this:
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


  1. Adam Hlavkasays:

    This is great! Following up on kids who don’t come out to youth is huge to show them we genuinely care about them… Great blog post, Ron!

    • Hey Adam thanks for your positive comment and you are so right! It makes such a difference when there is follow up for every student…not just the really good ones or the really difficult ones!

  2. Tyson Howellssays:

    I could not agree enough with making immediate connections. I see this time and again in youth ministry, if they connect they come back, in fact that is my story when I was a youth

  3. Jordan Michalskisays:

    Love the bit about getting adult leaders on the phones! Concise and relevant information :).

    • Hi Jordan -we would do phone blitzes every now and then but it is so much better when each leader is responsible for about five kids that they call each week no matter what. I really appreciate your encouragement –we can use it as we are just starting out!

  4. Cathy Robinsonsays:

    HI Ron, I noticed this article because our daughter, Laura Beth commented on it. I was Cathy Wheeler and graduated with you in 1984. Great to see you doing well in ministry at Vanguard. I’m forwarding this article to our Youth Pastor here in Corner Brook, NL. It’s short, sweet and to the point. Very helpful.

    • Hi Cathy,
      I knew who you were immediately! Last week I bumped into someone else from the Douloi class, Velna Keeping. I didn’t make the connection that Laura Beth was your daughter. Thanks for pointing that out and for forwarding this to the youth ministry. My heart breaks that so many kids slip through the cracks, never to return to the youth ministry. As for the article… its just like me … short, sweet, and to the point! 🙂
      Thanks for writing in!! All the best, Ron

  5. James Lordsays:

    How do you make it less awkward when doing a following up. What would be a good way to approach the follow-up and what do we say. How do we react to negative remarks such as “I find it boring” “I don’t agree with your views,” etc.?

  6. Wow. Those are great questions James! I just saw them now. It will be awkward but if the youth group and the church as a whole come to expect you to do follow up it is a little easier. I used to make announcements to the youth group that I would be doing this kind of thing and after a while, by word of mouth it got out there. As teens look forward to spending time with you the boredom complaint sometimes goes away. If this is the case it is best to keep the meetings short and maybe do something fun afterward.

  7. Those are great points. It is important to create bonds or shared experiences with newer students. Relationships are the glue that will keep them connected and coming back. I have done a three-step approach. I have students subscribe to a text message app that I use to send messages to the whole group, which is my first point of contact during the week. The second week I would send a direct message to a student that has returned a second week. And, the third step is a phone call. Hopefully by this time you are just solidifying you relationship with the student. If this is not the case, a phone call can become a way to reconnect with the student.

Comments are closed.