Are Teenagers Returning to Your Ministry?
Do you ever get excited seeing someone new walk in the door of your youth ministry? You feel like you’re seeing a long lost relative. Then you panic when they leave at the end of the night, wondering, “Are they coming back?”
We all want consistency in our ministry because it creates a healthy foundation to go and grow deeper. To achieve consistency means creating a ministry where students feel loved and connected. It means providing:
PROFESSIONAL LOOKING ENVIRONMENTS
You might not have total control over your space; however, you can ensure that it is clean and set up before teens arrive. If teens come to your space and it’s a mess or disorganized, it isn’t going to entice them to come back.
Start investing in your space by keeping it clean on a regular basis and allocating your resources to comfortable (and quality) furniture. It might take time to make this happen; however, it’s worth it.
A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE
Teenagers walking into your ministry for the first time are fragile. They aren’t sure what to expect and they don’t know if they’ll fit into the group. As an adult you are responsible for breaking down those barriers. Start by:
- Greeting teens at the door.
- Connecting them with teens who will show them around.
- Collecting contact information.
- Checking-in with them at the end of the program.
Make sure they feel special, but do not single them out. The more welcomed they feel, the more comfortable they will be with returning.
SYSTEMS FOR MEASURING YOUR EFFORTS
What brings teenagers back each week is going to depend on a variety of factors. Some of those factors are based on your community and church’s personality. You will only know if you are making progress if you measure what works and what doesn’t.
Look at your turnover rate and how consistently others attend. Note what’s going on in the community (i.e., high school Spring concert) and the weather. If you do something different, measure its impact and answer the question, “Did this work?”
A CULTURE OF INCLUSIVENESS
The best way to recruit and retain new teenagers is by encouraging your other ones to be outward focused. Make sure you constantly speak about evangelization, and challenge teenagers to invite their friends.
Celebrate the students who invite a friend. Preach about reaching out and being inclusive consistently. Guard against any games, activities or traditions that might seem too ‘insider.’ When your current teens make your ministry accessible, new ones will come back.
If you want your ministry to grow, you need to work at it. Continue to throw out the invitations, create environments that are accessible and encourage your teens to get on board. In the end you’ll discover that word of mouth is more effective than any event you’ve ever held.
How are you creating welcoming environments for new teenagers?