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.
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.