Reaching for Keeps


connectIn my first year of full time youth ministry, I was given the responsibility of being in charge of the planning and implementation of reach out events for youth. After lots of success numerically, as well as, fruit in students not only coming to the events but staying connected afterwards, I have seen reach events to be a wonderful way to grow a ministry and keep students rooted in the community of the church. I have made mistakes as well, as simple as not inviting students back to the next youth activity.

Here some suggestions I find helpful for reaching students for keeps:

Keep the main thing the main thing

A “reach event” is designed to be a one time (or annual) event that gives a well rounded taste of the student ministry, will attract new comers, help reconnect fringe students, and give current students involved an easy way to ask a friend to church. Your goal is to get students in the door, and then for them to get connected.

Some questions in preparing: Is it fun? Would you want to do this as a youth? Will a maximum amount of people be interested in this? Will a gamer and jock both want to come? Will girls like this and guys? Is it visible from people passing by the building? Could it be at a location where others would feel comfortable going?

The numbers matter, but they don’t matter

Typically, this event should have a higher attendance than any one activity you have in the month. It’s design is to be something most everyone would like. If the numbers are not larger than your normal attendance or the faces aren’t slightly different, then you may need to ask these questions:

Does the day and time that the event happens fit student’s schedules? Is it too expensive? You are the benchmark of excitement. Are you and the students pumped about it? Are you getting the word out? T-shirts, rave cards, social media, school lunch, reminder texts? Are you getting a variety of students involved in putting on the event–Drama Team, Youth Band, Parents, Volunteers, School band?

Connecting is key

All students want is to connect with someone. Students will not come back if they did not feel like they connected with a volunteer, parent, or another student.

A couple of suggestions on how to do that:

  • Have a volunteer meeting beforehand: assign stations, pray, and communicate the goal of the night.
  • Showcase what you do weekly: use familiar songs, youth band, drama, games, food, and tech team.

Caroline has served in student ministry for almost 10 years, and is currently the Youth and Young Adult Minister at Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, FL and co-founder of WAVES Girls Event, a conference for girls ages 14-24. Getting a call into youth ministry at age 16 in Nashville, TN led to Caroline getting a degree in Youth and Family Ministry and a certificate through PREPARE/ENRICH for Premarital Counseling at Abilene Christian University in 2009. She got her start in full time student ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. Caroline loves to encourage students in their faith, and see them be lights in their community. Some things Caroline enjoys is time on the beach, reading, sushi, coffee, traveling and time with her friends and family. You can follower her on her blog, called “Big Hare & Big Faith,”, or on Instagram and Twitter: @CarolineHare


  1. Ha ha, Surprise!! Yes, I finally got around to reading your article. Good job…I think that some of your points could be applicable to big people as well. I will do my best to make my events fun and connective and bigger than the norm.
    Be blessed. God loves you and you are not alone.