Often in ministry one area I believe gets overlooked is the “ministry” of follow-up. Yes the follow-up process has to be a part of the ministry or service that we provide to our students and families. In all of my time in ministry whether I am teaching, preaching, training, or coaching/consulting with youth ministries this one area always jumps out as one of the most important. This is because while it is great to pack the house, room, and/or arena with students, we should also be concerned and focused on what happens “After The Music Stops”. How are we following up successfully with these students and their families?
Well I have 3 thoughts for this:
1) You must have a predetermined TEAM in place: I can’t tell you how many times I come to churches to teach/preach or I have attended youth nights, youth retreats, youth conferences, and of course youth Sunday’s to hear a man or woman of the Gospel minister/share an amazing Word, students come up to make decisions and there is no process nor plan for them once they come up. While it is great that they have made the decision it is also our job and role as leaders to train and develop a team to be ready and prepared for this moment. You need a team of leaders ready to pray and present the next steps to these students after their decision for Christ. This can look different for each Church and youth ministry but the point is that you need to have some people who have been shown what to expect and how to welcome and instruct the students on the next steps of the ministry. The information can range from a youth new members class (welcome class) to joining a small group or other ministry, but they need some sort of plan/guide for the days and weeks ahead.
2) You must have a TIME frame. In our youth ministry we call it “The First 48”, yeah the TV show isn’t the greatest thought but our understanding is that every student that makes a decision for Jesus, will receive a text, call, and/or email from the ministry leader within the first 48 hours of their decision. We have to put a time to it because if not “you’ll be contacted soon” is a relative statement; to one leader that might mean 3 days and to another it could mean 7 days. We needed to set a time so that our contact and follow-up is a part of an overall process. For you 48 hours might be too soon or it might be too late, just look at your Church or ministry and see what time works best but you should have some time frame tied to the process in order to be successful.
3) You must have a way to TRACK the follow-up. This will look different based on your church size and the amount of resources you have. Our Church uses Fellowship One, so we track involvement and follow-up through this system, which allows us to see when leaders call students and the leaders are able to input notes for each students records in order for us to keep track of prayer needs, school involvement, ministry involvement, etc. It allows us to add students to “crews” (our version of small groups) and other ministries they want to plug into. If you do not have the budget for a system a free excel spreadsheet works great also. Leaders can use Google docs to remotely update the spreadsheet with the same information. Whatever you use, the point is that you need to use something to track the follow-up and ensure that you are doing your best to get students from sitters to servers.
Final thought, if we fail to have a process or system for how we are trying to be successful in follow-up chances are that we won’t be as successful as we could have been with a process or system in place.
What would you add? How do you follow-up with students? What questions do you have?
Rev. Russ is a youth ministry leader/preacher/trainer/coach, author of youth ministry resources, which can be found on www.AfterTheMusicStops.org Twitter: @PastorRuss09 Instagram: RevRuss