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5 Steps to Help Love Families Who You Only See At Easter (or Christmas)

Frank Newburn
March 27th, 2019

As youth workers, one of our primary roles is to build relationships with our students and their families. We do this in a variety of ways-youth group time, special events, mission trips, mentoring, lock-ins, service projects, parent meetings, and more. This time spent together builds and deepens the relationship we have with our students and their families and grows over time. The fact that we see these students and families consistently lends itself to building those relationships, but what about the students and families in our churches that we don’t see on a regular basis or maybe have never even met? We all have students in our churches who, for whatever reason, are not part of our youth ministries. We may see them at a church service once or twice a year, but that is it. So how do we reach and care for the students who aren’t in our ministry and their families? Below are a few ideas that could help you in this endeavor.

  1. Identify. The first step would be to identify what students attend your church but are not involved with your ministry. Many churches have a church roster of some kind and/or tracking system for who has attended. Find a way to identify the students who attend your church but you have not seen before.
  2. Introduce. Once you have your list of students and families, introduce yourself. Ideally if you are able meet them in person all the better and if your church has a photo directory that will be a huge help. If you aren’t able to introduce yourself in person, send a personalized letter in the mail. Include who you are, some information about your youth ministry, ways they can get involved, contact information for you at the church, and that you would love to have them check out the ministry. A phone call to the home would also be a great option covering the same information.
  3. Invite. Either in person, in your letter, or phone conversation, invite the student and parents to come and check out the ministry. It may be intimidating if they have never come but a personal invitation can go a long way. Ask the student(s) if they know anyone who attends the youth group. If they do, have the students they know also invite them. Also ask the parents if they know of other parents whose students attend the youth ministry and connect them to help answer questions and address concerns or fears. If your church has a coffee hour on Sunday morning or meal before church activities on a ministry night invite them to spend some time with you. Use that time to get to know the students and family and for them to get to know you. Let them know about the youth ministry and other opportunities for the family to connect more at church.
  4. Communicate. Once you have made that initial connection with the student and family, communicate consistently with them about youth and church events that are happening during the year in hopes of getting them more plugged in and connected with the church body. Make sure they are on your youth mailing list as well as the churches so they are getting any new communication pieces that go out. The more intentional you can be with this the better and more valued the student and family will feel. Continue to invite them to upcoming youth and church events, even if they don’t come. 
  5. Be intentional. In addition to inviting the student and family to events and communicating about those options, find ways to be intentional in getting to know them better and show care and value. Find out when the student’s birthday is and send them a birthday card. If the student is involved with a sport or musical production, attend one of their events or meets. Try and sit with the parents to deepen that relationship. If you see them on the one or two Sundays they may come to church each year, make sure you say hi and talk with them. Ask for ways you can pray for their family. If you become aware of times of celebration or struggle in their lives, respond accordingly and let them know you are walking with them. Find ways to consistently show them value and care. So, even if we don’t see them at church very often, they know they are part of the church family. 
Frank Newburn

Frank Newburn is a husband and father of three. He has been the youth director for Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois since 2006. Before that Frank worked for LeaderTreks as a Leadership Specialist and Trip Leader. His ministry focuses include mentoring and discipleship, student leadership, and missions. He has almost 30 years of youth ministry experience and has led over 50 national and international mission trips. Frank enjoys movies, cooking, working out, and spending time with his wife and kids. You can contact Frank at fnewburn@wesley-umc.com.

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.

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