People worry about how they can grow the numbers in their youth group. We look at how many young people are in our community and we are concerned, rightly, how few are connected to our church. Or, more worryingly, we compare our group to the group at the church down the road who seem to have it all. Well, stop it! We don’t need to worry what others are doing, we just need to handle well those that we do have and to attract others intentionally.
In my blog post last week, I mentioned 5 ways we can grow our youth group without even trying. If you haven’t read that yet, you can read it here.
This week, I want to look at a further 5 ways which we can intentionally grow our group. It’s not difficult, but it won’t happen, or at least it’s much harder, if we are not doing the 5 things mentioned last week, first.
The rule is always: invest in those you have, so that others will be attracted. Without that first investment, we might attract others for a one-off occasion, but they are unlikely to stay, as they will see little signs of relationship there.
Here are 5 things you can try:
1. Teach about reaching out
Growth is most likely to come through the young people in your group so make sure you are teaching them regularly about how they can share their faith. Make sure they realise that they are allowed to invite friends along. You’d be amazed how many don’t realise this and think it is their ‘special’ group! Also, help them realise the importance of sharing their faith. This is a command of Jesus to do so, and so make sure it is an essential ingredient in their discipleship, not an optional extra.
2. Pray for more
As leaders, be asking the Lord of the harvest to bring more young people to your group. This is not a one-off prayer, but should be a core ingredient of your leaders’ prayer times (you do pray together as leaders, don’t you?!). Encourage the members of your group to be praying for someone they could invite. Also, pray for them to have opportunities to talk to a friend about the group.
3. Talk to their parents
Parents will want their children to have Christian friends, especially if the parents are Christians too. Talk to the parents about who their child is friends with. Ask them if they know the parents of the friend. Could they encourage, parent to parent, for them to come to your group? Involving the parents is such a good way as it helps them realise that this is not just a social club but a chance for their children to encounter God and for lives to be transformed.
4. Create a permanent church display
Ask your church leader for some wall space. Is there somewhere in the church, or outside if you have a noticeboard there, where you can put some posters up to promote the group. If you have a church hall which is used by community groups, put the posters just outside the doors. This is a great space because this is where parents gather while they wait for their children to finish their Scouts group or their ballet lesson or whatever club it might be. Make the display really colourful and attractive. Make sure you mention the day and time of the group and that all are welcome. Don’t hide what goes on, be honest in your description. That way you will get visitors who are seeking God not just looking for a social club. Make sure you include a regular advert in your church newsletter or bulletin. Everyone in the church needs to know about the group as they will encourage neighbours’ young people to come along.
5. Have ‘bring a friend’ nights
Make sure that regular parts of your youth group’s programme includes space for them to invite friends along. Of course, they can invite them to any evening but having a specific evening is helpful for them to increase their motivation to invite someone. They may also feel it is easier because they know the session will be more visitor-friendly. Make sure you include your current youth group members in the planning of these sessions so that they are confident in what’s going to happen. Where possible, get them leading as much as possible. Get them welcoming people on the door, offering refreshments, leading games, giving the talk if you can!
If you follow all these ideas, it won’t be long before you start to see a steady trickle of new people visiting your group. Go for it!
Which one of these ideas will you try first? Please let us know in the comments below or if you have other ideas, it would be great to include them.