Have you ever ventured outside your home and realized that you had mistakenly put your shirt on outside-in (inside out). Although most of us would never intentionally wear our clothes outside-in, this is the approach we must take in our youth ministries.
According to research, the average size youth group is just eight students who make up 10% of the congregation. If we want this to change, we must understand that young people are unique in that many youth have no idea of the benefits of church and having a church family. Countless young people have never had a church experience. They are seeking acceptance and purpose yet they have no idea where they can find it. Therefore, it so important that as youth pastors, directors, leaders that we turn our youth ministries Outside-in. Luke 14:23 declares we must seek to reach them on the outside and then compel them to come in. We must reach them where they are. If we desire to see growth in numbers, we must change our approach. It is time to stop looking at the doors in anticipation of them flying open with young people flooding in and put our faith in action. Now is the time to realize that no matter how great our youth services are we will never win the ones waiting on the outside if we don’t try to connect with them where they are.
10 Ways to activate outside-in youth ministry:
1. Attend events where young people are such as, a local youth sporting event or theatrical production. Find out what extracurricular activities your students are involved in and go cheer them on. Make a point to connect with the parents and students. Make it known, that you are a Youth Pastor that cares.
2. Teach your volunteer leaders and staff to engage with students outside of the church walls. Encourage them to love on young people wherever they meet them and equip them with promotional materials such as a flyer for your next event, a postcard invitation to youth services and cards with contact information.
3. Do some research and find out the needs of the young people in your community. Communicate with local schools and youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. Find a need and fill it. Be creative, start with what you can handle and do it well.
4. Design and host outreaches at local public places such as a park. Provide a form of entertainment to encourage others to join in such as a game of basketball or football. BBQ some hot dogs and offer it to people you meet. Don’t forget to let people know you’re a youth group, a good way to do this is with the use of a banner. Have on hand an invitation to your next event and youth service. Activities and food are a great way to attract young people.
5. Make your church atmosphere welcoming to young people. Prepare for new members by teaching your leaders and current members to be open and friendly. Make your ministry information clear and accessible. Remember first impressions matter. Cater to your audience. It is not one size fits all. Accommodate your guest by letting them know you get them by providing things that are part of their culture such as an outlet to plug in their electronics. Don’t be afraid to use modern technology to enhance your youth services.
6. Plan youth events beyond regular scheduled services to provide an opportunity for current members to invite their unchurched friends. Game nights and movie nights are an excellent way to connect with parents; you may ask them to attend or allow them to drop off their children so they can take a night off. Always welcome and appreciate parents. Earning their trust is vital to the growth of your ministry.
7. When at all possible provide rides to the neighborhood kids for youth events and church services. If you are targeting an individual community, consider choosing a designated pick-up location. Advertise to let the area residents know what days and times you will be there for transports. Providing transportation works great in areas where people rely on public transportation and for youth who do not have a source of transportation. Make sure you meet the guardians of minors and obtain written consent before transport.
8. Challenge your current youth members and leaders to invite friends. Give them an incentive such as a contest and prizes. Make it simple by providing them with social media post and text which they can forward to others. Give them flyers to advertise the group and upcoming events.
9. Take advantage of social media, to promote events and to build up excitement about your youth ministry. The world needs to know about outstanding youth ministries. Ask your current members for their preferred form of communication. Consider using a mass text messaging service such as www.textmarks.com this is an effective nonintrusive way to communicate with members regarding upcoming events and changes to current events. It can also be used to encourage your students, leaders, and parents through sharing testimonies and texting daily devotions.
10. Partner with local ministries, attend their events and invite them to attend yours, such as youth camps. Partnering enables you to offer your students extra activities with minimal cost and effort. Exposing your group to local youth ministries will allow for relationship building and broaden their perspective of youth ministry. Promoting the growth of other youth ministries will, in turn, grow yours. Youth need to know they’re not isolated and there is power in unity.
Bonus: Create a charity event, ask your current youth, local youth groups and the young people of your community to volunteer. Consider hosting a community clean-up day. According to Barna Group, 68% of teens are active when it comes to volunteering. Creating a volunteer opportunity will allow you to connect with local youth, build a relationship with local youth groups and bless your community.
Look at your youth ministry from a new perspective. Step outside your church walls, find the young people that are waiting for you to reach them. Put your faith into action by creating a plan to reach the ones on the outside who are desperately seeking acceptance and purpose. Turn It Outside-In!
1. www.Barna.com Brana Group poll 2016
2. http://www.ptsem.edu/ Princeton Theological Seminary
3. https://www.barna.com/research/teen-attitudes-toward-service/ The Myth about Lazy Teens September 2, 2016.
Published April 30th, 2017