The event’s due date passed and my numbers were bleak.

Worse, I simply hadn’t heard from the majority of people in my youth ministry.

Were they not interested? 

Did they have plans? 

Had they simply forgotten to turn in the forms?

That night, I debated what to do. At what point should low numbers keep you from doing a big, overnight event?

The next morning, I woke up and decided to give it one more shot.

I went through our roster and systematically followed up with families. I e-mailed parents, told them about the event, and asked if their kids would be interested in participating. I texted students and personally invited them to join us. I told people that I wanted THEM to participate. I also name dropped and let them know their friends had already signed up.

By that night, our numbers had doubled, giving us the critical mass needed to make the event worthwhile.

As I watched our numbers grow, I was reminded that low numbers don’t always reflect a lack of interest in participating. In my follow up with parents, what I heard again and again from people is: “Oh! Thanks for the reminder! We meant to turn in that permission slip but it’s still sitting on the counter with all the other forms!”

Families today are inundated with things, including paperwork. Sometimes, even the most organized parents lose track of things. Even when you e-mail reminders or newsletters, those too, sometimes get filtered with all the other promotional or junk e-mails (especially if you use e-mail services like constant contact.)

So, when you take time to personally reach out to a family and invite them to participate, your effort is never wasted. Parents appreciate the reminder (and the grace in turning in forms late.)

Students also appreciate the personal invitation. When you personally invite them to participate in something, it shows you value them. It communicates they matter to the group.

And regardless of whether or not students participate in your event, showing you care matters. It lays the foundation for them to participate in your ministry, if not at this event, then one in the future.