How to Make New Students Feel Welcomed

Every student ministry loves to see new students walk through their doors. With this comes our responsibility to make sure these new students feel welcomed right off the bat. I’m sure there are many students who go to a student ministry program for the first time and leave never to return again because they didn’t feel welcomed. I want to share a few things with you that we do in our student ministry to help new students feel welcomed. Don’t mistake the name tag picture to be a suggestion on how to make new students feel welcomed. Name tags will just make them feel awkward. Don’t do it. Follow the suggestions below.

Train your student leaders to look out for new students and to connect with them as soon as a new student walks in. In our high school ministry we have a student leadership team made up of students from 10th-12th grades. One of the weekly responsibilities of this team is to be on the lookout for new students and to be ready to connect with a new student when they walk through our doors. I encourage them to ask them where they go to school, what grade are they in, what kinds of things do they like to do, and what made them to decide to check out our ministry. Even if you don’t have an official student leadership team you can train a few students to do this on a weekly basis. Not all students are great at this. You will have some students who are naturally more friendly and can easily walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. Find a few students who are gifted in this area and put them to work. The best way to help a new student feel welcomed to to have a another student welcome them and spend some time talking to them. The sooner this happens the better so train your student leaders to be quick to welcome and talk to a new student.

Train your adult leaders to connect with new students as well. Not only do new students need to be welcomed by another student, they also need to be welcomed by an adult leaders. Train your adults leaders to be looking out for new students. Train them to not just look out for them but to actually talk to them and to get to know them. It makes a huge impact on a student, especially a new student, when an adult intentionally talks to them and shows an interest in them. It’s easy for our adult leaders to clump up together and not connect with new students. For many adults, talking to a teenager is not always easy and at times very intimidating. But our adult leaders have to be willing to leave their comfort zones and connect with both new and regular students.

Train yourself to talk from upfront with new students in mind. Whenever you the student pastor stands or main leaders stands upfront and talks to the crowd of students, make sure you talk with new students in mind. Don’t just jump up there and welcome them to your program. A new student will not know who you are so introduce yourself. If you have trained your student and adults leaders well than new students have been talking to them all the way up until your program starts. Once it starts and you get upfront, quickly introduce yourself and give a general welcome. I also make sure I do a few other things when it comes to this idea of keeping new students in mind when upfront. Whenever I start my message, I always quickly review the current teaching series we are in as well as what we have talked about the weeks prior. Also, when I talk about things like retreats and mission trips I always explain what these look like and why we do them. All these things are things that are regular students know and may not want to hear explained over and over but making a new student feel welcomed and comfortable is more important.

These are just a few things we do on a weekly basis to help new students feel welcomed when they walk through the doors of our ministry. Even though I think we do well in this area we have not arrived. We can always get better. I’d love to hear from you. What are some things you do to make new students feel welcomed when they walk through the doors of your student ministry?

Guest Post: Four People to Partner With in Youth Ministry

partnershipMy name is Bobby Childs and I am currently a middle school and high school athletic director in the state of Kansas.  Before my current job I have spent five summers at camp, and been a volunteer youth leader for 2 years. Attended Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. There are four people we need to partner with in order to have a successful youth ministry.

Youth. My heart is for people. First and foremost my heart is for youth. There is nothing I would rather do than be developing the next generation through God’s word and time spent with them. It is a joy to see students receive opportunities to lead and serve. Make sure you partner with students in this way in the appropriate settings to let them step up to the challenge.

Parents. I have come to realize that I don’t want to be the only one to share in this excitement. Partnering with parents in your ministry is also crucial. Give parents glimpses not only in person, but in other forms as well. Parents cannot always attend events. So create a Facebook group to give them snip its of activities. Post pictures and videos there, with the appropriate permission, to help them see what is happening in your ministry.

Volunteers. There should also be a partnership with volunteers. At some point you are going to need others to help you make your ministry successful. Other people want to help, they are just waiting to be asked. So ask away! Do not be overbearing in your asking, just present opportunities. Some volunteers will want to help out as much as they can, and other volunteers want to show up occasionally. No matter what your volunteers do to help, make sure you thank them. It could be a card, phone call, text, email, face to face. Just make sure you tell them how much they contribute.

God. This is not last on the list because it is least important. It is the most important aspect that we can often forget in our busyness. There should be a daily partnership with God. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that we should trust God and not trust our own understanding. We often have so many ideas of what it looks like to be successful that we forget to ask God.

Make sure you partner in all four areas. The work is hard, but the rewards are endless.

Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

Recently, we just finished up a series called Get Real in our middle school ministry. During the series we addressed major questions many people, including Christians, ask about Christianity. For example, “How do we know God is real?” or “If God is so loving than why is there so much suffering in the world?” The question I tackled a few weeks ago was “Is Jesus really the only way to God?” I want to share the main ideas from that talk in this post and hope to share why we can believe that Jesus really is the only way to God.

A popular belief in our culture is that all religions are equal. Not only are they equal, but they all lead to the same place. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what religion, or path, you take, we will all end up in the same place. Some people may choose Christianity and if that’s works for them then it’s all good. Or some people may choose Islam, or some other religion, and if that’s best for them then it’s all good. We call this belief “religious pluralism.” You see this kind of thing pop up in things like the coexists bumper stickers. You know, those stickers that spell “coexists” with the symbols of different religions. As good as all this sounds, it couldn’t be any further from the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus makes a claim that goes against any claim that all religions are the same or that all paths lead to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus claims that there is only one way to God and that’s through Him. How do we know that’s true? Let me share with you three other things that support Jesus claim that He is the only way.

1. Jesus is the only way God provided. In Matthew 26:36-44 we read about Jesus going to a garden to pray before He would be betrayed and arrested. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew He was about to be beaten, spit upon, and murdered on a cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. In complete agony He prays to the Father and asks Him if there is another way to do this. He asks God that if it would be His will, could He get out of doing this. But we see Jesus complete surrender and determination to follow God’s will. Jesus goes to God three times and basically asks Him if there is another way. And three times God doesn’t repond. There is no other way. The death of Jesus as a sacrifice for sin was the only way. God’s silence screams this truth from the pages of Scripture! Think about it, if God had another way would He really send His only Son to be nailed to His death on a cross? This sacrifice only makes sense if what we believe is true-Jesus is the only way!

2. Jesus is the only way that fixes our problem. Everyone enters this world with a common problem called sin. All religions recognize this is some way. They may not call it sin, but they realize this world is broken and things are screwed up. So all religions, or paths to God, try and fix this problem. Some try and say that all we need to do is be better, try harder, and hope our good outweighs our bad. Sadly, all religions, except Christianity, just puts a band-aid on our problem. Only Jesus actually fixes the problem. How does He do that? He becomes a curse for us and take our sin upon Himself. In exchange we get His righteousness which means we continue as if we have never sinned. We are justified and stand before God perfect because of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains this great exchange to us.

3. Jesus is the only way transforms our life. No one actually experiences life change outside of Christianity. All other religions don’t change a person. In actuality all they do is become an “add on” to someones life. But Jesus comes and gives us a new start. The Bible calls this being “born again” or the “new birth.” We literally go from death unto life and experience a whole new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” No other religions can make that statement. In their book Red Like Blood, Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington tell a story about a situation the famous evangelists Dr. Ironsides found himself in. At a Salvation Army event, Dr. Ironsides was called to the platform to share a few words. On his way up, a outspoken atheists started making remarks and yelling at him. The atheist called Ironsides out for a debate between Christianity, which he claimed was false, and atheism. Ironsides looked at the man and said this: “Yes, I will debate you this Saturday morning. But there is one condition. You bring one person whose life has been transformed by the power of becoming an atheist and I will bring fifty ex-alcoholics and fifty ex-prostitutes whose lives have been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. And then we will debate.” Christianity is the only religion that has to power to change a life.

All religions, or paths, to God are not the same. There is only one way and that is through Jesus Christ. That is the only way God provided, fixes our sin problem, and brings transformation. No other ways to God claim those three things.

Click here to view my speaking page where you can hear the audio of this sermon as well as other sermons I have preached in the past.

5 Things to Teach Your Kids About the Presidential Election

If there is ever a time every four years that we easily forget who is in control and forget we are commanded to conduct ourselves in a God honoring way, it is Presidential election season. You’ve seen it, the Facebook and Twitter updates from people saying things that left you scratching your head wondering if they forgot their a Christian first, an American second. As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in all this stuff and forget you have children watching you. Their watching the way you react to our current President and watching what you say. Even though it’s a crazy season, remember God expects you to train your child and help them understanding the Presidential debate in light of who He is and what He has said in His Word.

My first Chris Sprad, over at EpicParent.tv, wrote a great post on five things you need to teach your kids about the 2012 Presidential election. I want to share part his thoughts with you and encourage you to teach your kids what it’s important throughout this election.

VOTE UP OR SHUT UP. I was actually considering not voting this year.  To be honest, I’m just not all that pleased with either of our choices.  I personally would like to see Ross Perot throw his hat back in the Presidential race or maybe Will Ferrell. Anyway…how UN American is that?  Step into the pain, teach your kiddos to VOTE UP OR SHUT UP.

GOD CREATED GOVERNMENT. Your kiddos need to understand that God created government for a purpose and that God allows/places leaders in power. The Bible story of Saul being made king is a good example. Saul was a wicked king, he still did a lot of good, and he was still placed in power by God.  Romans 13:1 (NLT) says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”

HONOR THE PRESIDENT. We should teach our kiddos that no matter who wins the election…the Bible tells us to honor our leaders.

CRAZY MATH FACT. The Center For Responsive Politics has estimated that the total cost of Presidential campaigns will be in the 5.8 billion range.  It would only cost 10 billion a year to end hunger in The United States.

THE KING. Whoever wins the election, Jesus is always King.

I would encourage you to take a minute to read the entire post over at EpicParent.tv as well as check out some of their other great content. As parents, use this election to teach your children how to be Christ-like and how to view it in light of Scripture.