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Ways to Connect Students to Your Local Church

Each year, I try to set many different goals that I feel God would want us to achieve in our student ministry. Many of these goals are a result of seeing something that we could do better the year before. This year, one of our goals is to integrate our students into our local church (Union Grove). We have been working at this, and still have a long way to go, and I felt led to blog about this issue. Tim Schmoyer (founder of studentministry.org) blogged about this same thing, and he had some interesting thoughts and tips on how to integrate the students into your church. You can about his thoughts here.

Each Wednesday, we average about 70-75 students in our service. Some nights we have more, and other nights, we have less. It is booming. The place is filled with excitement, and everyone loves it. They look forward to coming to the Grove! Then, something happens between then and Sunday. We will have like 25 students on Sunday morning. Now, that is not a good percentage at all. In fact, it is kind of disappointing. Now, several of our students on Wednesday nights do in fact attend other churches with their parents on Sunday’s, but many just stay at home. You may be having this same problem in your student ministry, and wondering what to do. We are in the process of changing this statistic, and we have implemented several steps. Here they are:

  1.  Teach on the importance of being in a local church – Students need to hear why this is important. It is Bible, just read Hebrews 10:25. God wants us in church, and it is a Bible truth that we must learn here. If I am part of a church who has a Sunday morning service, it is my duty to the Lord and to that church that I am there if at all possible. It is a Biblical principle that should drive our decisions.
  2. Encourage students to serve in their local church – One of the primary reasons students get excited about Wednesdays, is because we believe in ownership. I give them ownership over the set up, order of service at times, song selections, etc. They have a huge part in pulling our student ministry off each night. On Sundays, then, they have no ownership and no responsibility! We almost view students on Sunday’s as worthless and less of importance because of their age and assumed immaturity. Look, we pull off a pretty big deal on Wednesday nights and rely on students. So, I guarantee you that they can do a pretty legit job on Sundays as well. I try to get my students serving in our media ministry, choir ministry, and children’s ministry on Sunday.
  3. Create a Student takeover – Now, you can call it whatever you like, but we chose to call ours, “Student Takeover!” We did our first one recently, and it was awesome! I look forward to doing many of these in the future. What we did was we allowed our students to run and direct the entire service for the adults on a Sunday night. We have video announcements that the students did and edited. We had a student choir that sang. We had a praise team that led worship who were all students. We had a student testimony given that night. All of the special music was from our students. We even had a student preach as well. It helped connect them to our church and connect the church to them. Not only that, we saw a couple of families come to watch their student who had not come to our church in the past.
  4. Encourage your lead Pastor to fellowship with the students – This is something that we already had at our church. Our pastor has a solid relationship with our students, and spends time with them at activities and church. This is a must if you want your students connected to your local church.
  5. Make your Sunday School Program dynamic – We call ours “Bible Fellowship,” but I went to a more traditional model for you to understand what I was blogging about. We are in the process of getting ideas and creating our Bible fellowship ministry to be much more dynamic and exciting. We have goals for it to be relational and interactive. This is a great way to get students coming on Sunday’s to be a part of this Bible study hour.
  6. Hold events that bring the two together – We hold a Y.A.A.C. which stands for Youth Activity After Church. We take the entire student ministry to someone’s house to fellowship. Any church member can volunteer to host this event. We do one a month and it connects our students to a specific family in the church. Also, hold events for your adults that your students attend and serve at. Make sure there can be interaction between your students and the adults.

Church is supposed to be relational! Therefore, it is important that the students have relationships with the church members if you expect them to attend! I welcome your thoughts and feedback…

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Josh Evans is the family pastor of the Oakleaf campus of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He has served in this position since June of 2014. Before that, Josh had been a mentor and pastor to students since 2006. Josh is passionate about seeing life change in families and teaching them the truths of the Word of God. Josh is a blogger, speaker, family pastor, and die-hard Duke Blue Devils fan! Josh and his wife Abby were married in February of 2008, and those years have been the happiest years of his life. Josh and Abby have two kids. Lynlee and Cameron. Josh and his family live in the Jacksonville, FL area. You can connect further with Josh on this blog or send him a direct email at joshhevans@gmail.com.