Take a look at other posts in this series:
Creating An Inviting Culture: Take A Good, Hard Look At Your Service
Creating An Inviting Culture: Do A Student Lead Series
Creating An Inviting Culture: Summer Camp Is The Linch Pin
Creating An Inviting Culture: Use Social Media Strategically
You heard it correct.
Every event we do is attached to a Wednesday Night service. No more Friday night, random event. No more event that a few friends of students who don’t come to service that won’t come to your youth gathering. No more wasted budget.
Truth is, we did this for a long time. This is what I have grown up doing in my own youth group and when I first started almost every event was a stand-alone one. We made the switch a few years ago to only doing events that are attached to our Wednesday night program and it has been so fun to see.
**Side note: Is this the only way to do this? No. Do I think you should not do any event outside your service night? Maybe not. I know plenty of ministries who do really well with separate events and in their culture, it works really well with outreach. In our context, we found it did not.
Instead of having an event in hopes students would invite a friend to and then hope that new friend might come check out a service, we have both on the same night. This way, one of our students can invite a friend to an event where they come to a service first and then stay after to be at the event. This way new students are exposed to what a church service is like, they can see our worship, see our culture, our teaching and then have some fun with friends after services.
All events are free for students to attend.
Yes, we budget knowing all events are free, but it’s strategic when we ask for budgets for the year.
We get 100% participation in events so we know we are getting our money’s worth.
Students have something to invite a friend to on top of service. It makes it a little easier for students to gain confidence to ask a friend to come.
Yes, the events are shorter because we don’t want to go super late (especially during the school year) but if you do them well it won’t matter. There is nothing worse than an event that should have ended 20 minutes ago anyway. End it on a high note…early. Leave them wanting more.
Every friend that gets invited comes to service in hopes to start a relationship with Jesus. They are exposed to the Gospel and a loving church community and we don’t need to worry about if they show up for an event and never seeing them again.
It helps students invite friends to service even when we don’t have an event because it’s now a part of our culture. This is what it’s about.
We don’t do it every week. We have events certain times of the year. Strategically placed, every year so students know when they can invite those friends they know would never step foot on a church campus otherwise.
We (I’m talking about me here too) can get so down when students do not invite friends. We wonder why they don’t but we don’t ask ourselves if they even feel comfortable what they are inviting their friends too. We can’t assume what is happening now is something our students want to invite friends too…especially those who have no idea what church-life is and what to expect. In a culture where more and more students are growing up in homes where their parents are not churched, helping students engaging their friends is up to us.
If you have something your students would want to attend then your students will want their friends to attend as well.
For us, getting rid of stand-alone events has been key to developing a culture where students invite their friends to our service.
Check out related podcasts on this topic from Youth Ministry Hacks Podcats:
Episode 21: Hacks On Running Effective Big Events
Episode 26: Hacks On Creating An Invite Culture Part 1
Episode 27: Hacks On Creating An Invite Culture Part 2
Brilliant Idea. Can you share some of your big event ideas that have worked well on Wednesday nights?
We have done:
In N Out Truck
Bunch of fun/big inflatebales
smores and fire pits
Yes!! We have been doing this for five years now and it has been great!
[…] Creating An Inviting Culture: Move All Events To After Service […]
Can you create (or maybe you already have) a list of those questions you posed? That would be super helpful for me to be able to read those as I process them with my team.