Courtesy of BattleCry.com
A recent Gallup survey found that those who attend church
with a best friend are more likely to be spiritually committed
and satisfied with their church body. What does this “Friendship
Factor” mean for youth ministry?
Survey results found that those who have a best friend in their
congregation had better attendance, felt closer to and personally
cared for by their pastor and other church members, and spent
more time in worship and prayer everyday. It’s common knowledge
that this generation places a very high priority on friendships.
Therefore Gallup’s findings must be even more true for teenagers!
Studies show that 80 percent of Christians came to Christ through
a friend. Relationships are the most effective form of evangelism
and are vitally important to teens. Group Magazine reported
that a friendly atmosphere was the #1 deciding factor in choosing
a youth group. Having high tech equipment was #9.
It is important to provide an environment in your youth ministry
where deep friendships can easily be formed. What practical steps
can you take to see this happen and keep young people coming back?
Create opportunities for fellowship by providing fun,
When people of like interests get together to do what
they love, common bonds are formed and solid friendships are quickly
built. All it takes is an activity and a date. It’s easier
than you think—if you’re not an expert on the activity,
just work with someone else who is!
After determining dates and details, be sure to publicize the
event as a “gateway activity” and cast the vision
to your youth to use it as an outreach. Encourage them to invite
new people, not just the same old kids that are at your meetings
every week. Some ideas you could try include BBQs or free pizza
dinners, scrap-booking parties, ski trips, working on cars, hiking,
bowling, going to amusement parks or organizing sports tournaments.
Make visitors feel like part of the family by warmly
greeting them as they arrive.
First impressions are vitally important. Within 11 minutes
of entering a building, people generally decide if they will ever
come back again. That means we have 11 minutes to sweep them off
Visiting a new youth group can be very intimidating, but you
can ease the awkwardness with a greeting team. Select a group
of outgoing and energetic teens to stay by the door and welcome
people as they arrive with big smiles and lots of enthusiasm.
The key is to not just to greet newcomers, but to start a relationship
with them. Train your youth leadership team to remember names,
sit by new people, ask questions, and encourage everyone to invite
the people they meet to hang out after the meeting.
Another way to bless newcomers is to give away special gifts
such as free snacks or merchandise. Also, try adding a “meet
someone new” break during your meetings.
If you and your teens will make a conscious effort to notice,
appreciate, value, and love the people who come to your church,
visitors will notice—and come back..
Help strong friendships develop by breaking into small
On a regular basis, break your group into small groups
to go over discussion questions prepared ahead of time. This provides
a less intimidating environment for people to open up and be real
with each other. This also prevents visitors from slipping through
the cracks. Many youth ministries also form “cell groups”
or small group Bible studies on various nights of the week for
Get everyone involved!
It’s the youth pastor’s job to provide opportunities,
but it’s the teens’ job to take the initiative and
build solid friendships. Train your teens to constantly be on
the look out for new people and to sit by them, welcome them,
and invite them to hang out after youth group events. If your
youth’s focus is making new people feel loved and comfortable,
no one will ever leave unnoticed.
By strategically providing gateway activities, going out of the
way to bless newcomers, providing opportunities for small group
fellowship, and getting your youth involved, your ministry will
thrive as personal relationships flourish. Strangers will develop
into friends and your teens will become more committed to a passionate
pursuit of God.
When making plans for this upcoming school year, don’t
forget “The Friendship Factor.”
Read youth culture news, youth ministry articles, and join the
fight for America’s young people at http://www.battlecry.com.
Article reprinted with permission.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.