Attracting New People to Your Youth Ministry

Attracting New People to Your Youth Ministry


Neal Bowes

1/9/2015

From time to time, I want to pass along some ideas and ask you to share some of yours.
 
  • What strategies and programs do you have in place to attract new people to your youth ministry?
I have found that most kids find it difficult to invite their friends to youth group. So, from time to time, we present alternative activities that are an easier invite. For example...
 
Middle School Movie Night
We have a DVD player, a projector, some speakers, and a screen. We pop popcorn and get some soda. It's all free. (I joke with the kids that it's an $87 value.) 
 
We encourage our regular kids to bring friends so that they can see our space and meet our volunteers. We start at 6:00 with some time to hang out and play some of the games we usually play at youth group. Before the movie, we talk about two things. (1) We make sure that everybody knows they are welcome back Sunday for our youth group, where we play more of those crazy games. (2) We tell them that they are loved and cherished by God and that nothing they have ever done can mess that up. A good number of them have probably never been told that before.
 
We time the start of the movie so that it ends at 9:00. We give everybody a handout about our upcoming events, and 20 minutes later, we're cleaned up and done.
 
To save you time pre-screening movies and give you a wider selection of movies you can safely show, I recommend you check out ClearPlay.com. It's a subscription service that allows you to play a DVD in their machine which drops the sound and sometimes automatically skips over certain scenes.
 
Don't forget, you will need CLVI licensing to legally show a movie in that setting. And you can sell snacks, but you can't charge admission.
 
Super Bowl Party
We run this event in a similar way to movie night, but everybody is invited to bring some food to share. (Never too early to expose the kids to the virtues of the traditional Methodist pot-luck!) We still include the youth group invite and the proclamation of God's unshakable love.
 
Not a lot of church buildings have cable TV service, but perhaps you have a congregant with a decent-sized rec room or a big TV. Explain that you are planning to use the event primarily to reach some unchurched kids and see who comes forward.
 
We tell the kids that they can stay for the whole game or leave whenever their parents say they have to. A lot of kids get picked up at half time.
 
There have been a lot of questions over the years about how a church is allowed to conduct a Super Bowl event. We are allowed to host them, but we cannot charge admission to them. We can promote them with the words "Super Bowl," but we cannot use the Super Bowl logo. We can use the team names, but not their logos. More information on this is at the Christian Copyright Solutions website.
 
Give Away a Prize
At these types of events, it's pretty cool to have a door prize. Get an iTunes gift card or some movie passes and let everybody enter to win. On the entry blank, ask for their names and whatever contact information you want (address, cell number...). Now, you have the beginnings of a database to contact visitors with follow-up invites to your regular youth events--or their parents to your Lenten Bible study.
 
(This is a door prize, not a raffle. It's important to know the difference.)
 
  • What about you? How do you attract new people to your youth ministry? Email me with your best ideas and I'll pass them along to everybody.