How do you retain students in your student ministry? It has been said that the strategy that you win them by will be the strategy you must continue to implement to keep them coming. Therefore, if it was a show that brought them into the door, the show must continue to get better and better to keep them coming through the door. The reality for most of us is that the show is not the point or the draw we are trying to create in our ministries. Today, I want us to look at ownership as an idea for retaining students in your ministry.
Ownership is the idea that students have a place that becomes their own. It is the idea of the youth group moving from, ‘the youth group down the road’ to my youth group. As owners in a student ministry, students begin to feel like they are at home and invested in a ministry and the people of the church. Ownership is most easily accomplished through building relationships and allowing students to lead within your ministry.
Through building relationships, a student ministry becomes a safe place for students. They know that they are loved and cared for. Students begin to feel free being themselves rather than wearing a mask and trying to fit in. As students begin to feel known and loved in the context of your student ministry, they will want to come and be connected because they know they will be missed.
Allowing students to lead also gives them ownership in the ministry. They are there because they know that they have an important part to play within the ministry. Students can lead in a multitude of ways: leading worship, setting up, selling snacks, serving as a greeter, or leading a Bible study. Through allowing students to lead, they become more invested in the student ministry and more open to being committed.
We all know that there is no place like home – no matter where your journey in life may take you. As we seek to strategize about our student ministries, let us make them places where students know that they are known, loved, and that they have an important part to play.
Ben Birdsong serves as the Minister of Students at Meadow Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He holds degrees in Marketing and Human Resource Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a Masters of Divinity degree from Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, and is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Ben has served with Student Life, Inc. and First Priority of Alabama. He loves to minister to students and challenge them to become campus missionaries and to live out their faith. Ben is married to Liz, who is a middle school English teacher. He enjoys movies, reading, coffee shops, and blogging at http://www.benbirdsong.com