Tom Shefchunas

When Middle Schoolers Invite Their Friends

by on in Experience.

Are your students inviting their friends to come to church?

It’s an important question.

Maybe a more important question is, “When they have an opportunity, do your students feel like it’s important to invite their friends to church?”

Or, let’s make it more objective.

Are guests showing up to your ministry?

The answer to this question tells you so much about the heart your ministry, the heart of your students, and your effectiveness.

Though I haven’t really found a good way to figure out who the guests are or why they are there (yet!), I do try to pay attention to this stat.

Some guests are there because their family is on vacation and their parents wanted to here my pastor speak. That’s pretty cool, but it doesn’t really tell me anything about the effectiveness of our ministry or the heart of the kids – they didn’t invite them, they didn’t even know them!

Some guests are there because their parents were invited by another adult. This is very cool and may mean something for our ministry. If the parents convinced the neighbors to come because of the great student program, that is relevant to us as we try to figure out if this thing is working.

Some guests are there because a friend who comes to Transit (our middle school program) wanted them to come with them. This is extremely cool and a great indicator that you are making progress in your ministry. Not only is it a great indicator that what you are doing is important to the student, it’s also a great indicator that your students are moving in the right direction when it comes to their relationship with Christ.

Isn’t it true that one of the greatest discipleship strategies we have is to move students from coming to church to being the church?

Don’t miss that.

One of the greatest discipleship strategies we have is to move students from coming to church to being the church.

There are lots of ways to do that. Here is one example that I love and that I think works pretty well.

Recently we had an event where we tried to make it very easy for students to invite their friends.

We call it the Double Dog Dare-Athon (a name adapted from the Book of Hesitations!).

The basic idea is this.

1. Invite a friend over on Saturday night.
2. Get online at 8 pm and watch the 10 video dares we have prepared (basically short little bits we did and put on Vimeo).
3. Take a picture of each dare and send them in to us.
4. Bring your friend to church tomorrow to find out who won.
5. Listen to the rest of the program specifically for guests.
6. Join with us as we all invite them back.

Now, in addition to that, we made it the third part of a series called “Just Like the Movies.” We took the first two weeks to talk about investing and inviting as evangelism and the importance of it. We also prepped a message using clips from movies they have all seen (which was just fun).

The result was a bunch of guests. Over 20% of our attendance were visitors.

There are obviously more ideas.

So how do you do it? How do you keep kids engaged with bringing their friends to church?

  • Chad

    I like the idea behind this. However, I do think sometimes we (I) forget to focus on whether those guests come back. It’s when they move from just coming to see some cool event to a regular attender to someone who is inviting someone else that I think shows real growth in the ministry and the students. Just a thought.

    • We have noticed in our MS ministry that it takes a student having several interactions with our ministry to really get to the point where they feel plugged in and comfortable on a Sunday morning. This is such an awesome idea. We shall be doing something like this very soon, great post!

  • Dan Puz

    Chad- I agree with you. We get a consistent flow of guests throughout the year. I can always do better at tracking how those guests ended up in our ministry, like Coach mentions here. But when it comes to follow up we are really trying to step up our game. I recently started taking all the contact cards (we have a new student fill one out at the doors) and having someone from our staff, a small group leader, or me personally following up with that student. We send them a postcard- yeah snail mail- old school right?! But the cool thing is we put a note on everyone- telling the students to bring it with them when they return and get free candy.

    Good stuff on this blog. Thanks Coach!