8 Questions to Ask When Students Visit Your Youth Ministry
Moving to a new city last month, my family, including my two teenage daughters, have been visiting a few local churches to see which one might be a good fit for our family. It’s a weird process that kind of feels like some kind of experiment; like we’re visiting different families to see which one we want to “adopt”.
Anyhow, with all of these experiences, it’s opened my eyes to how ministries are trying different ways to welcome newcomers. This brought up a few questions that I think we need to ask ourselves in regards to welcoming visitors to our student ministries. Ask them of your ministry…
Are students personally welcomed when they walk in the door?
The first few minutes are the make-or-break moments for many. If they feel welcomed coming in the door, you have a much better chance reaching them for the rest of the evening.
Are newcomers given directions and input as to where to go and what to expect?
If students are wandering aimlessly around the building trying to find where you gather, this may be a problem. It’s better to have a system set up so that everyone knows where to go. This is already a new and potentially frightening experience for them. Help them feel at ease and let them know what to expect.
Are they introduced to other students their age?
You’ve probably heard it before, but I believe that it’s true: “Students will come for a program, but they will stay for relationships.” One on one connections, especially between peers, are irreplaceable. It gives students a connecting point, and even more importantly, a name to come back to next week.
Do leaders introduce themselves?
Another contact point, another safe place, and another person to show them God and His love. Train your volunteers to keep their eyes out for visitors.
Have you considered giving 1st time visitors something free during their first visit?
A ticket for a free drink at your coffee shop, an energy drink, a candy bar, donuts… whatever. Free stuff is always fun!
How about offering some print materials to take home with more information about other opportunities to connect?
If they don’t read it, their parents probably will. To get a teenager’s attention, hand them a business card with your ministry’s website on it.
Will they be contacted via card, message, or text in the following week?
Let them know that you appreciate them coming and that you hope to see them again. Make it personal.
Do you have a welcoming event for newcomers?
Host a regular dessert night for some of your student leaders and volunteers to come out, eat, meet new people, and just have fun.
Creating a space of warmth and welcome takes a lot of intentionality. One of our favorite new resources, Adoptive Church by Chap Clark zeros in on a theological place of belonging. If you’re looking for a softer read on creating a space of welcome, check out Scoot Over And Make Some Room by Heather Avis.
What are you doing to welcome new students to your ministry?
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.