Our high school ministry had dwindled from 60 students down to nine. I know that numbers are relative; however, we had seen a significant drop. It came about when we removed the requirement for teens to attend because of sacramental prep. The teens we did have wanted to be there, which was good. The new challenge was getting them to bring in their friends.
Evangelization is not an easy task. It’s clear, again not easy. To encourage a teenager that they need to bring their friends to Christ, especially in a world of relativism, can be overwhelming. To help them bring their friends to a place where you can assist with the evangelization you need to:
Create a Strategy: We ask teens to invest in someone at their school or on a team and then simply invite them to our ministry. We know it’s only one step in evangelization; however, it breaks down the intimidation that evangelization can sometimes bring. It also gives them a plan. It’s not about tricking their friends, it’s about bringing them to a place where they can learn about Christ.
Make It Accessible: It might be really hard to get into your ministry. Maybe it’s because you do not communicate enough. Maybe it’s because you are meeting infrequently. Maybe it’s because you’ve created an insider’s club. To make your ministry accessible, be clear about where you meet and be consistent with when. Make sure you create an environment where all are and feel welcomed.
Praise Teens That Bring Their Friends: You want your teens to know that inviting a friend is an essential step to evangelization. By praising them, you are showing them that they are on the right path to growing other disciples. While you want to show the entire group that inviting friends is a good thing, be sure to thank individuals one on one. You don’t want to make the friend they brought feel like a quota.
Repeat, Repeat and Repeat: You cannot tell a teen enough how important it is to bring their friends to church. Put it in your messages, have it repeated in small groups and make it in the announcements. Make investing and inviting friends a part of the culture so that teens feel like it’s a natural thing to do.
Make It Biblical: Teens need to know that inviting a friend to be a part of the church community is not to boost your ego. They need to see that when they bring a friend, they are doing a part of what Christ has asked them to do. Too many times, we tell them the what and how and never the why. Show them.
There are many different ways to attract a crowd; however, if you want to grow the core of your group, you need a strategy. You need to cast vision and show them how it’s an essential part of their own spiritual journey. Praise them as they grow in their faith by growing others. Make it a part of the culture.
How do you encourage teens to bring in their friends and peers?