Imagine what it’s like to be 15 and showing up at a student ministry for the first time. You just moved to town and your parents want you to make new friends so they heard about this youth group and thought it would be good for you to try it out.  You are so nervous. What if no one talks to you? You hop out of the car. Wait, are you at the right place? You know this is the church, but are you at the right door? Well it’s now or never. You walk in and look around hoping someone says hi. Some random adult comes up and introduced themselves as the youth pastor they were nice, but they had to go do something else so now you’re just standing alone, awkwardly looking at your phone hoping other people aren’t noticing you.

Alright now back to reality. You’re an adult and you work with students. You don’t want any student to feel this way when they show up at your ministry. Here are some simple and practical steps that you can implement to foster a welcoming environment and culture.

  1. SIGNANGE – A simple welcome banner or flag can make all the difference. It helps your students know where to go and communicates you are expecting them.
  2. HYPE TEAM – Good signage falls flat without warm and welcoming people. Build a team of students and adults who wait outside your environment welcoming students with high fives or holding the door open. This helps students feel seen and welcomed. Remember, people don’t always remember what we say to them, but they do remember how we make them feel.
  3. CHECK-IN – Once they walk in where do they go next? A check-in area can help welcome new guests and regular students. It provides the opportunity to identify new students and collect their information for follow up.
  4. NAME TAGS – This is an easy step to create a belonging culture. Saying someone’s name is a simple way to create a connection and show students that their name is worth knowing.
  5. THE ENVIRONMENT – After they check in, what’s there to do? How about for the athletic student? The artsy student? The musical student? The student who wants to just hang out and talk with their friend? Think through ways you can create a space for every student to feel comfortable.
  6. FOLLOW UP – Don’t make students feel forgotten. Use your check-in data to implement a simple follow-up system for new guests. Send them a text or postcard welcoming them. If any student has missed more than 2 weeks of your programming, reach out letting them know you miss them and are praying for them. Intentional follow up helps students see they are important to you and your leaders.

These small changes can make a big impact on your ministry. What are some other ways your student ministry builds a welcoming culture?

Last month, Frank gave DYM Gold Members his latest resource, TikTalk Icebreaker Videos – Thankful Edition, for free! Check it out for yourself. And if you’re a Gold Member, download it right now so you can have some killer ice breaker conversations!

And click here to check out Frank’s other resources as well!

Are you ready for some fun-themed questions to get your students thinking about what they are thankful for? These four new themed icebreaker videos will help your students feel connected and known during your large group program!

This is how it works: These four video-based 1-minute icebreaker questions can work anytime during your program or even during small group time. These questions are designed to help students connect with each other and develop new friendships with some hilarious questions to discuss!