Just finished up a weekend of hanging out with the youth ministry folks at Emmanuel UMC in Noblesville, IN and their great youth pastor, Nate Harrison. What great kids! What a great youth worker! They looked long and hard for him and I’m thinking they hit a jackpot with that one.
This is a church with a YM that has a lot going for it. But – and there’s always a big but – one dynamic they identified that’s not working so well is that while the youth come faithfully, and obviously love it…they don’t bring their friends very often. One said, “I have in the past but nobody talked to her.” “Well, we woulda but you two sat in the corner the whole time!”
Most of us get it that its necessary to teach youth members how to welcome in the newbie. (One way is to not call them “newbie.”) But it occurred to us that perhaps the “friendship epidemic” education has stopped short of training the actual student who brings a friend. Where should they go? How should they arrive? What should happen? You smellin’ what I’m smearin’?
So here are some bullet points I would go over with my youth about how to bring a friend:
1-Tell your students to call you ahead of time with the heads-up that they’re bringing a friend. You can make sure you’re ready and not running around setting up.
2-Ask the students to pick their friends up instead of meeting them at the location so that the member can show the friend the secret to knowing where to find the youth room. I’ve seen some that were harder to find than what Nicolas Cage went through finding the National Treasure. (Throw up some signs, people!)
3-Teach the students how to introduce their friends around to the others, where to sit, how to jump in on games, not to abandon their friends, etc.
4-Have your students go over the typical evening’s schedule with their friends, so the friends feel like they’ve got the 411. A list of that night’s time frame might be nice to put up near the check-in table. I just use a dry erase board.
5-While I’m on the topic of check-in: If you’re not doing them, START! Have a central door where all students come through with someone greeting and making sure that everyone marks their attendance. Its also a great place to capture contact info and place flyers/brochures for upcoming youth events. How can anyone follow up with the guest if you don’t where to follow up?
OK, there are more and I would love for you to post them. I, on the other hand, have to go meet a friend here in the Minneapolis airport.