As of late, I have had multiple conversations with many good looking and great thinking youth pastors who were wanting to know how to reach the unchurch kids when they (the unchurch kids) do NOT want to enter the church doors. I have really been wrestling around (both in my head and verbally) with how to effectively do youth ministry outreach outside the church walls.
I feel really good about the Outside/In (unchurch students come to church) approach but I still cannot get my mind around the ideas on how to do the Inside/Out (church goes to unchurch students) approach really well. I am really stuck.
If we are saying that 50-60% of kids are dropping out of faith after high school and that youth ministries are only reaching 25-30% of the kids in the community, then do we need to start leaving our youth rooms to go meet and befriend more kids in the community?
I really want to focus on reaching the students who are not even coming to church. My dream is that many youth ministries begin thinking about how to go reach the students in our community who have never even considered church. But how can our youth ministries do this?
As I look back through my blog archive– I realized that I have many posts on youth ministry outreach. I am almost obsessed with trying to figure out outreach for youth ministry.
I am finding that I tend to favor the unchurched kids when thinking about youth ministry programming and philosophy– which is why I am always revisiting the youth ministry outreach conversation.
What does an outward focus youth ministry look like?
The School Campus- It seems that youth ministry has forgotten about the school campus. Students basically live here so how can youth ministries effectively go on campus and meet kids? YoungLife does an excellent job at reaching the school campus. YoungLife is so intentional about training their leaders to meet kids where they are at and get them plugged into their local club. So how can youth ministries train leaders to charge the school campus and start doing great contact work? Also do we think that christian clubs on school campuses are effective? I have been apart of many and I feel like christian clubs at school sometimes behind another big holy huddle and mini-youth group.
Events Outside of the Church Walls- Doing events for all types of kids always works if you do your research. You need to ask your core students what they think others students would enjoy doing. Students know what other students love to do–so pick their brains on a fun activity that appeals to all students. Also select activities where you and the leaders can meet all the new kids so pick events that foster organic conversations betweens students and students and students to adults. Some successful outreach events I have done are: Battle of the Bands, Ice Skating, Dodgeball, Broomball, Throwing a Dance Party, Bowling and Overnighters. The point is just to do things together outside of the church.
Disclaimer: I never preached at these events. I simply called these events the events we do IN CHRIST. Basically we tell students we are Jesus followers and invite them to our entry level program and I required my leaders to follow up with all their new contacts and make personal invites to youth group. The aim of the event is just to hang out and get to know everybody and invite them to youth group– which is where the message of reconciliation to God must be communicated.
Service projects- I am all about serving together regardless if you believe in Jesus or not. Today’s students are not wondering when and how God might use them to rescue the world from its pain and problems. Students know (regardless of their belief system) that they have demonstrate compassion and care to others. One of the biggest advantages ministering to the students of the next generation is that they long for energizing visions worthy of pursuit and sacrifice. I am a big fan of getting kids to belong to something before they have to believe. Three simple ideas on how to get all type of kids to serve:
- Get them to serve the local community (food shelters, babysit for free, tutoring centers and trash clean up)
- Get them to serve the global community (compassion, 30 hour famine by world vision, take a work related mission trip)
- Get them to serve the older folks in your church (identify the needs of the elderly in your church and make students do the work for free)
So what really works well when you implement the Inside/Out outreach approach? In another words, where do you do outreach and how do you do outreach?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please help!!