As a youth pastor, you probably desire to have lots of teenagers in your youth group. Even if you are starting out small, you likely want to see the numbers grow. While you know that it isn't necessarily the number of people attending your youth group that counts, seeing more people show up may give you the encouragement that you are doing something right. Those feelings can be confirmed even further if you see teenagers returning time and time again and inviting their friends to come with them. If you are just starting out, then you might be trying to figure out how to get your youth group off the ground. Perhaps your place of worship is new or the youth program is just getting started. Here are some ways you can help make your youth group successful.
Set Your Goals
The first thing you need to do is figure out what your goals are. Think about how many people you want to have showing up to your youth group regularly. What do you want your youth group to look like? How long will the service last? Will there be music? These things will help you figure out how your youth group is going to look. Set small goals for yourself so you stay motivated to keep bringing people in.
Draw Them In
Next, you will need to get teenagers to show up in the first place. To do this, you may have to do something to entice them. Think about when you were a teenager. What kinds of things would make you want to show up to a youth group? Here are some things to try:
Have snacks available. Nachos and popcorn are pretty inexpensive options, and you could offer candy and soda for a small price. Announce a grand opening, where you do something special like show a relevant but appropriate movie or have a guest speaker who teenagers will want to see. See if you can invest in a game room with things like foosball tables and air hockey.
While it's probably your ultimate goal to tell teens about God, these kinds of things can encourage them to show up.
Make Them Feel Welcome
An important thing for teenagers is for them to be accepted as they are. Society in general tends to have a negative view of teenagers, so many of them have their guards up when they are showing up somewhere new, especially to someplace like a church. Make it known that all teens are welcome. You can do this by not enforcing a strict dress code and greeting everyone with a smile. The way you treat them when they first walk in will say a lot about whether or not they decide to stay or come back.
Encourage People to Bring Friends
Once you have some teenagers who are showing up to youth group regularly, encourage them to invite their friends. You can make business cards that give a brief summary of what the church and youth group is about. Have teens hand them out to their friends at school. You might also want to have friendly competitions to convince people to come. For example, you might have a basketball tournament or a karaoke contest. Offer a gift card to a local restaurant or shopping center as a reward. You will likely see your numbers grow substantially if you have events like this every once in a while.
While all of these may help you bring in more teenagers, don't forget about your main goal. Try to focus on the quality of your youth group, not the quantity of teenagers who are showing up. Do your part to make the youth group the best it can be and you may find that the numbers grow without you having to try.