This is in response to a former article I wrote on DIY Student Ministry. This is the fourth of ten areas that I’m covering in this series.
A new student walks into your room on a Sunday morning…better yet, do they? Thousands of students every year go unnoticed or aren’t given the opportunity to even make it to the threshold of the youth room. Many churches forfeit their opportunity to welcome the student by lack of promoting and advertising the time and location in which students meet. Let’s face it, the day of parents dropping off their teenager at the door is coming to a close; unless the teenager themselves can find out when and where you are meeting, then you just lost many potential students. Where are your signs? Are your meeting times and info on the church website, how about social media? I’d love to discuss on how to better encourage the number of visitors to your program but first I would find it incredibly important that a solid foundation is in place for welcoming the visitor.
It’s music to the student pastor’s ears when they hear, “We had 10 visitors today!”…that’s great, but the question I would silently ask myself would be…”Are they coming back?” Understanding that you hold some responsibility on whether or not a visitor returns is a huge deal! Do you have the pressure from your church to “grow” your youth group size numerically? Well, have you considered that the only way to grow your youth group numerically is through new attendees (visitors that come back)? This shows just how important a visitor follow-up process can be.
My Visitor Checklist:
- Did you get their contact information?
- Did you give them a gift in exchange, thanking them for coming?
- Did you connect them with someone they can identify with: school, grade, hobby?
- Did you personalize a follow-up step? Phone call, post card, gift drop, etc.
- Did you connect with the parents?
If zero of these things happen, the likelihood of this student returning is slim to none. However, each step improves your chances of seeing that student again…if you complete all 5 steps I estimate you have a 60-70% chance of seeing that student again, especially if they do not have a church home and enjoyed their time. I helped restart and improve this process in my new role at Gateway Church, but this is not something I do on my own. Striving to get away from a DIY SM, I have invited others into this process that can be far more welcoming and do a better job at maintaining our process. Knowing the next teen that walks through my door could experience life change forever and a relationship with Jesus Christ – partly because we were faithful to help them get connected and stay connected, now that’s a reason to get excited about a visitor follow-up process! (theology disclaimer: We take no credit for their salvation, but would like to think our faithfulness to this kind of process is God gracing us and allowing us partner with Him when it comes to seeing life change!)
I recommend the book Fusion. This doesn’t directly apply to student ministry but many of the follow-up methods can be repurposed for welcoming teenagers.
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