Thought this was a good observation from Stephanie Caro over at – we may be telling students all of the time to “bring their friends to church” but hardly equip them to actually make such a huge ask. Here’s a little clip of her thoughts, head there for the complete article:

1 - Tell your students to call you ahead of time with the heads-up that they’re bringing a friend. You can make sure you’re ready and not running around setting up.

2 - Ask the students to pick their friends up instead of meeting them at the location so that the member can show the friend the secret to knowing where to find the youth room. I’ve seen some that were harder to find than what Nicolas Cage went through finding the National Treasure. (Throw up some signs, people!)

3 - Teach the students how to introduce their friends around to the others, where to sit, how to jump in on games, not to abandon their friends, etc.

4 - Have your students go over the typical evening’s schedule with their friends, so the friends feel like they’ve got the 411. A list of that night’s time frame might be nice to put up near the check-in table. I just use a dry erase board.


In thirty years of youth ministry, I can honestly say I’ve tried every recruiting style possible. Take a look at these four fall-back recruiting approaches:

The “Cruise Director
‘Come join the youth team! Free trips, free food, hotels, fun and you’ll have a great time! No, you won’t have to chaperone at lock-ins!'”

The “Beggar
‘If you don’t join come on this trip, we’ll have to cancel it and lose our $2,000 deposit. We really, really, really need you! PLEASE???????'”

The “Lone Ranger
‘Hey, great having you on the team! Here’s your job description. Thanks for doing your part. You know? Let me do that for you…the kids are used to it being done a certain way. Oh, and I’ll do that, too. Why don’t you just watch for awhile?'”

The “Do-It-Yourselfer
Building a team? What’s that? Nobody wants to volunteer so I don’t even ask.'”
See yourself here? (I’m a combo of the Cruise Director and the Lone Ranger.)

Don’t do these!

Instead, I’ve learned a little something from Jesus’ example when he put a pretty awesome team of 12 together. I call it, “The Five I’s:

Invoke: Bring the Holy Spirit into the process anything. Go somewhere and pray.

Identify: Listen for who the Spirit lifts up. Identify those people He reveals would be an asset to the team. Don’t assume anyone will say “no.”

Invite: Talk to them one-on-one and ask them to pray for a week before saying “yes” or “no.”

Initiate: Let them come and check things out; give them a peek into what you’re asking them to do.

Inform: Hand them a volunteer packet so they can make a well-informed decision. Info would include a specific job description, volunteer guidelines, a ministry covenant, program purpose statement, 12 month youth ministry calendar and something fun, like a $5 card from Starbucks to enjoy a hot cuppa while reading and praying.

That’s how I do it, anyway. Hoep this helps!

Stephanie Caro is a youth ministry blogger at Small Church Youth Ministry and has written a book on the subject you might want to check out, too.

There is nothing more important when you’re selling a product than the branding you give it. That’s Business 101.

Out of all the logos listed to the left, you could probably identify the organization immediately. You know who it is, what they are selling and probably how you can get your hands on one of their products. They have relentlessly put their brand in front of you and convinced you it’s something you need.

Shouldn’t we be doing the same in ministry? I’m embarassed to admit, I haven’t done the best job in branding our ministry. As I was walking down the hall the other night, someone saw our banner in the hallway and said “Redeemed Student Ministry, what’s that?” The who we are answer was obvious but I haven’t done a very good job at explaining what we’re about.

The biggest disconnect between the church and student ministry happens when we fail to communicate our brand. Yes, they know that we exist and they know that we serve students but it’s not so obvious to what it is we do. It’s why churches want to cut the youth budget, or axe the youth guy first, whenever they run in to financial problems. They know that we play some wild and crazy games; or turn that music up a little too loud on Sunday mornings. Or even worse: video games!

What they don’t know is that our student ministries are a place for students to become more like Jesus, to work through life together with students their own age, and a place where they are loved on by caring adults. I’d love nothing more if the answer to the question, “what is the Redeemed Student Ministry about?” was the list mentioned above. What would happen if I communicated that clearly and relentlessly to our church family? The support for our ministries would come rolling in! Who doesn’t want that for their children? Yes, we do all of the silly things mentioned above — and they are an avenue for introducing students to our ministry. However, they don’t identify us — and they aren’t our focus.

Who we are is how the community feels about us — even if we’re dead wrong. If you could communicate your ministry in three words, would they be? Why? And would your students agree with your answer? (Quote from “Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches” by Rick Chromey + Stephanie Caro)

Zach Powell is the Pastor to Students and their families at Vienna Baptist church in Vienna, WV. You can check out his blog The Retreat for solid youth ministry insights.