I remember begging and pleading with my friends to come to my church’s youth ministry when I was in high school. I would do my best to persuade them to go, because it:
- Affirmed what I was doing.
- Gave them the same experience I enjoyed.
- Pleased my youth minister.
In the end I got turned down quite a bit. I didn’t like the rejection I lost motivation and eventually I stopped asking.
Teens really do want to bring their friends, it’s just difficult to overcome the fear of rejection. It’s easy, as a youth minister to think that the teens are not pulling their weight when it comes to inviting a friend. This is why you need to set them up for success. They need to feel like they can bring their friends to something of quality. As a youth minister you need to help teens bring their friends. To do that you need to:
- Provide Irresistible Environments: Your teens might not want to bring their friends for the same reason they don’t want mom or dad driving them on a date: THEY’RE EMBARRASSED. Is your space clean? Do you run a smooth operation? When people walk in are they scared, uncomfortable or happy to call your ministry home?
If teens are proud of where they worship, they’ll be more confident sharing it with their friends.
- Form Small Groups Outside The Weekend: Sometimes a large group event or a church function can be a turnoff for teens trying to bring friends. While there is energy in a large group ski trip, you have a better shot of making a connection if a small group does it on their own. This makes the invitation more personal and unique. The teen feels like they are receiving special attention.
- Walk On Their Turf And Terms: Sometimes teens have a hard time bringing their friends to you; therefore, you need to make yourself available to their paradigm. This means showing up to games, plays and events. Don’t overbook your calendar, just figure out which are the big games and events for you to be present. Encourage your leaders to do the same.
- Encourage And Cheer Them On: Again your teens will face rejection. They might be inviting their friends because they do not want to let you down. Encourage them to do it for Christ, let them know that rejection is a part of the process; however, that they are loved.
As soon as your teens start bringing their friends make sure you are giving them a gracious and authentic experience. Create an atmosphere where they are welcomed and loved. Help teens bring their friends by giving them a place and a ministry that allows teens to feel like they belong. When your students see that you are helping them with the invite, it will give them the confidence to do it more.
How do you help your teens extend an invitation?