Our Churches Youth are competing with tons of images coming at them each day via social media. There’s almost always something going on competing for their attention. And yet they seem to feel alone and unseen. With so many distractions, today the challenge is to engage with youth, be creative without watering down the Gospel, and most importantly – connect and show them you care. Following are some ways to keep youth interested in the church:
Ask the youth.
Before you go through a production of what you think is best as a leader, simply ask them about their interests. Talk to them and see what would make youth services more appealing to them and perhaps incorporate some of their ideas with yours.
Make it interesting and create a great atmosphere.
It’s not unusual to go to a youth function and there are games, a DJ, drama/skits, videos, and music. Most adults can remember connecting with cultures like entertainment, sports, and fun things when they were a youth. Nowadays there’s a lot of good positive entertainment and resources available so include these exciting elements and speak to them through ways in which they’re interested.
Introduce students to each other. Start the conversation between them at the youth service. They might form a bond and look forward to hanging together at youth group activities and maybe even at school.
Rescue a lone youth.
If you see a kid sitting alone, have a youth leader or volunteer strike up a conversation with them. Try to connect them to another student or activity going on while they’re there so they won’t feel alone and avoid coming in the future.
Help with life management 101.
Consider incorporating life management skills into messages, teachings, literature, and conversations. How cool would it be for a student to learn how to better manage the money they’re making at their after-school job or Godly ways to handle negative conversations in the lunchroom or questionable activities in the locker room? If they feel like they’re really getting something applicable to the issues they are facing, they might be more apt to keep coming back to learn more.
Make space for conversations.
From sitting around tables during pre-service game time to conversation huddles following service, these times of interaction can build community.
Reach out to them if you haven’t seen them in a while.
How many youth fall through the cracks and never return when a simple phone call or text to check on them might make them feel seen and loved?
Show you’re interested.
Try to remember something interesting about a student (he plays sports, she’s on the honor roll, they can sing well, etc.) and comment on it when you see them. If it’s a challenge to remember details, simply comment on something visible like the team jersey they’re wearing or the cool Bible or journal they’re carrying. It could show you’re interested in something about them.
Engage with parents/guardians.
Invest in them and show them that the ministry is helping them raise strong kids. If they buy-in, they might be more apt to make sure that their child gets to church regularly. Some churches even have a night periodically where parents/guardians are invited to the youth service.
Provide virtual alternatives.
If a student isn’t able to attend in person – say because of a school event, health concern, work, etc., provide a way for them to watch or rewatch services online.
Send messages with event info and updates electronically and via handouts to parents/guardians and give handouts to students. It keeps everyone on the same page so they won’t miss what’s happening.
Pray for the youth.
Stay connected with God and ask Him to give you ideas on how to interest them and care for them – and that they will be receptive. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
The church has a lot to compete with in the world, but you can’t beat connecting. Youth might act like they don’t care but they want to know that you do care. So regardless of the size of your ministry, the same underlying principles apply to keep youth interested in the church: make it interesting, keep God at the center and connect with them to show them that you care!
Donna is ACS Technologies’ Vice President of Client Experience. Her focus is on customer satisfaction and client retention. Donna started as a support representative in 1985 when the company was still called Computer Dimensions.
Check out How to Connect Personally When You Can’t Know Everyone along with the other connection blogs for more information on Keeping Youth Interested in Church. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox! Also if you are interested in youth ministry software, contact us to help you develop a personalized ministry plan.