At the beginning of the year we get excited by the huge turnout. Everything is new people want to start out fresh and attendance is at a high. Fast forward to the Spring and maybe you’ve noticed your numbers are dwindling. You panic, and wonder, “Am I going to lose my job?”
First thing you need to do is relax. Your ministry is going to have seasons where attendance is strong and others when you wonder if you work in a ghost town. While you’ll never have 100% attendance rate you can take a few practical steps to ensure teens will come back.
STEP 1: FORM AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS
The reason teens come to your ministry is because they are looking for a relationship. They might not know that it’s ultimately with Jesus Christ, but they are looking to be connected. Your responsibility is to make sure that they feel like they are part of a community. You can do that by:
By providing an environment of authentic relationships teenagers will feel like they are known. They will want to come back because they know that they will be accepted for who God created them to be.
STEP 2: CREATE A HOSPITABLE ENVIRONMENT
When teenagers walk through the door do they feel like they belong? First impressions are huge in your ministry and they start at the front door. As you build your team make sure you have designated people by the door greeting teenagers walking in for the first time.
If you have a check-in system make sure the ministers you put up front like to smile and are good with names. The more you greet teenagers the more you show them that church is a place they are supposed to be.
STEP 3: MAKE PARENTS A PRIORITY
If you win over parents they will be another voice encouraging teens to come back each week. The way you win over parents is by:
- Communicating Clearly On What Your Program Provides
- Making Sure They Know The Names Of Your Teen’s Small Group Leader
- Asking The Parents How You Can Serve Them And Pray For Them
Build the relationships you have with parents and you will not only strengthen the family but build advocates to your ministry. They will see the value in sending their teen to your ministry and make it a priority.
STEP 4: CLEAN UP YOUR DATABASE
One of the reasons teens do not return is the lack of follow up. If a teenager is thanked for attending or contacted when they’ve missed a few gatherings it communicates, “We really do care about you?” To do this effectively you need to capture accurate information.
Look at how you are collecting information. Are you getting more than just an email? Do you know where to send a card if someone has a birthday? Do you know the names of the parents of your kids? The information you collect will help you create a more effective communication plan.
STEP 5: PRAY FOR THEM
Even if you are consistent with reaching out to teens, building relationships with families and reminding teens to show up they will face a spiritual battle each week that will deter them from returning. Make sure a part of your daily prayer is designated towards your teenagers. Ask God to help them make the right decisions, to stay focused on Him and know that what you are providing as a youth ministry is more than entertainment.
Teenagers will return to your ministry if you take the time to intentionally welcome them and connect with them throughout the week. Make sure you are looking at ways to encourage them to return and affirm that they are where they need to be.
What other steps do you take to help teenagers return to your ministry?