Covid-19 Resources

3 Tips to Get Your Post-Quarantine Students to Your Fall Kickoff

Jonny Radcliff
August 5th, 2021

Are your post-quarantine students going to be at your Fall Kickoff?

During one of my recent “linger-after-youth-group-and-catch-up” times, I had a beautiful moment of reflection with one of my all-star leaders. We were recalling back to a conversation we had that was a week before The Great Shutdown. It was at this point that we both decided that we should forego the youth group for a couple weeks to let this “virus stuff” blow over. 

It was adorable. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was going to be an arduous and exhausting ride. About one month into “the new norm,” I developed a new slogan: Keep looking ahead to September 2021.

This new school year can be described as a cautious hope. Although we can’t predict that there won’t be more restrictions, quarantines, and variant strands, many ministries across the nation are plowing ahead. To put it frankly, we are engaging in a drastic rebuild of our student ministries. Still, in the midst of all of our tireless efforts, this nagging question remains: Will our students show up to our kickoff and engage in our group this fall?

To best assure that this answer is a resounding “yes,” here are a few bits of advice. 

Don’t Rely On Conventional Modes of Communication

Many ministries rely too heavily in their systematic communication streams. Far too often we assume that if we send out the weekly email, the people will know what’s going on. If we continue to post on Instagram, the students will see and respond (and, of course, sprinkle in some Facebook for the old farts). If we send out the right mailer, it’ll end up on their fridge and into their Google calendars.

Marketing tells us that it takes six occurrences of any announcement before the people actually retain the information. The best mode of retention is to mix up the methods of information transfer as well. These stats are true of a captive, engaged audience. Most of your people are not.

Assess your modes of communication. Realize that they will not be as affective as they were in February 2020. Which ought to lead you to…

Personally Invite Each Kid On Your Roster 

Our teens are coming out of the most isolated event in our lifetime. Plenty of them have felt neglected, overlooked, and unimportant for too long. Many of them wonder if their absence makes a difference in your group – some even wonder if it makes a difference to you

Show them that it does. 

Print out the WHOLE roster (not just the regulars) and get on the phone. Show your people that you’re not content to hang with the 99 – you’re going after the 1. 

Here’s an idea for free: You, the main leader, call parents only. Check up on their kid through their parental eyes. Ask them how their kid is recovering from the seclusion of the quarantine, how they’re feeling about the school year as a family, and how you can help them disciple their kids better this year. 

And here’s the second idea: Rally a few of your key students to do the calling around to the rest of the teens on your roster. Your students will buy in more when they put the effort in, AND – let’s be real – it’ll mean more to the kid being called to hear a peer excited about it than you. 

Taking this much time and effort will help you…

See Every Name As A Soul Needing More of What Jesus Has To Offer

We have a saying in our student ministry that goes like this: If we know their name, they’re our kid. Every conversation with a student is an opportunity for Jesus to invade every fiber of their precious souls. There is no “our kid” or “not our kid” because we are the instruments of Jesus to offer redemption to all. 

Be sure that you and your team are not falling back to the usual crowd of the kids who are already bought in. There are so many teens who need to experience the beauty of Christian community so that they will be more and more deeply drawn into the heart of Jesus. Push your people to make sure there is no such thing as an outsider. 

This rebuild that we are getting into is going to take more relational touches than ever. Don’t sit back and assume your systems are going to do the work for gathering your people for this school year kickoff. Connect individually if you want people to rejoin collectively.

Jonny Radcliff

Jonny Radcliff is the Student Ministry Director at Storehouse Church and the Philly Area Coordinator at National Network of Youth Ministries. He lives near Philly with his wife and the four little monsters that they rear together. His 13 years of student ministry have been spent in Indiana and Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Liberty University and Grace Theological Seminary.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.