“Students in my ministry won’t invite friends”- said most youth pastors.
Why don’t students invite their friends to your youth ministry? You are probably asking this question, but for some reason students won’t invite people, and they won’t tell people where they are on the night when they are in your youth ministry.
How can you help students invite people? It will start with you and creating a culture where it is safe for students to invite their friends. I remember in high school inviting friends to my youth group and being nervous about what they were going to do that night. That is why when there was a themed series, it was always easier to invite friends because I had an idea of what to expect.
Here are a few tips that have helped my ministry grow in the past few years. These tips allow for students to not be ashamed of inviting friends to your youth ministry.
Make it fun.
People routinely come to my ministry and say, “ I can’t believe this is church.” Parents from the community will usually say, “I wish I had a youth group like this when I was a kid, church was so boring for me.” I don’t know why we have such a hard time making things fun.
When I first arrived in my current church, they always called the youth night a “bible study”. We quickly changed the name. It wasn’t that we weren’t studying the Bible, it’s just the sound of that name sounded boring.
We also inserted games into the night, and built a culture of fun into the night. Lot’s of youth pastors I have talked with struggle with creating a culture of fun. They want to be serious all the time like the preachers they follow on twitter or instagram.
Fun moments with your students are shared experiences. Shared experiences help build relationships and will give you a place to speak into their lives.
Create fun moments with your students that they will always remember. My students will always remember when I broke my glasses at a youth night when a grade 5 kid hit me in the face with a ball, or helped my small group win a pizza party by doing some stupid challenges.
There has to be an element of fun. I don’t know why we can’t do this. Your youth group should be the best thing that student goes to all week. You can pull it off with a little fun.
Have cues for student.
There are some simple cues that core students in your ministry should know when to invite a friend to the youth ministry. There are easy invites for your students. I don’t know about you, but no matter what size my ministry is, I am never ok when I show up at a High School, and don’t know students. The goal of youth pastors is to know students in their communities, and in the schools where there students are at.
We work on a few cues, or reminders that students should invite other students.
Here are a few that we have come up with.
1. I am new to town.
2. I feel lost or alone
3. I suck at ____________.
4. I don’t know what to do with my life.
Those are simple ways that students are reminded to invite their friends. Two years ago, we had sisters that moved into town. Someone invited them and they became Christians that year, and are serving on the student leadership team. It’s all because of one student inviting.
Give students buy in.
There has to be an element of buy in with your core kids. They have to feel like it’s their ministry. That might mean giving things away. We try to get our student leaders help us plan events. They often come up with ideas that we have never thought about.
About a year ago, we were planning an all nighter, and one of our students mom worked at Walmart. She asked her mom for a donation, so we dropped off a letter, and we got a donation. When you allow for students to buy into your ministry, they will make it better.
Have a clear vision.
What is your vision? Do students know it? Do leaders know it?
Once you have a crystal clear vision, use it to help students rally around what your ministry is trying to do in the community. We wrote a post a few weeks ago called, Creating A Vision Statement.” It’s worth checking out.
Once you have a clear vision, you can celebrate when your students invite someone, or share the gospel with someone. Andy Stanley states the importance of vision, “If you haven’t defined the problem, determined a solution, and discovered a compelling reason why now is the time to act, you aren’t ready to go public with your vision. It won’t stick”
I hope that your ministry attracts students in your community. I hope that when you show up on the High School campus, you know everyone. If you are like me, and you don’t know enough students at your High Schools, we have a ton of work to do.
We need to help students love God, love people, and make disciples. We can do this by making our youth groups fun, having cues, giving ministry away, and having a clear vision.