Welcome To Youth Group! Now What?


It’s Youth Night. Students begin pouring in your doors and one of your students comes up and says “Hey (awesome youth worker’s name), I brought a friend!”

Now what?

My hope is that you, the awesome youth worker, welcome in that student and do your best to create a welcoming environment. If so, you’re 85% of the way to having an awesome first-timer plan!! However the next 15% is just as crucial. This last 15% is all about radical hospitality. In our student ministry, we’ve created a very simple plan for not only welcoming in that student, but quickly contacting that student with our staff, volunteers, other friends and our ministry contacting with the student’s family. Here’s a rundown of our First-Timer Ministry.


Step 1: Signage

It all begins with signage!! While we don’t want students to feel singled out, as students first walk into our space, they sign in on registration iPads which only include the names of students who have attended at least one Sunday during the year. Thus if you are new, your name will not pop up and we’re able to quickly greet that student with one of our volunteers who brings that student over to our “welcome” booth.

Step 2: Signup

Here a student will fill out a quick “Welcome To Element” card or click on the “Welcome To Element” button on the iPad you’ll see pictured. I mention both because sometimes frankly, our internet does not cooperate!! The card and the online form are both posted below.



As soon as a student fills out this online form, a copy of it is immediately emailed to me.

Step 3: Automatic Parent Email

A copy is also emailed to the “Parent Email” that the student entered along with a “thank you” message that states:

Thank you so much for joining us here at Element tonight. I hope that you have a great night with your friends both new and old and that you’ll have a great opportunity to experience the love of Christ in this place.

Please know that we are here for you, to help you grow stronger in your faith and closer to Christ daily. If there is ever anything we can do for you, please let me know!

For more information about all of the ministries going on here at Element, check out our website, www.elementstudentministry.com. You can also text the word “ELEMENT” to 39970 to receive regular updates about everything happening here.

Thanks again for joining us tonight!

In Christ,

Element Student Ministry

Two great things about this email – 1) this allows a parent at home whose child rode with a friend to church know that their child is safe at the church. 2) this gives instant access for that parent to learn more about our ministry through the website and better talking points with their child when their child comes home after youth.

Step 4: SWAG

Once the student has filled out the form, we give him/her a small “welcome to element” gift bag (pictured below). These also serve as our “Back To School” packets that we hand out at the start of each school year. For more information on these and pricing, go to http://blog.downloadyouthministry.com/guest-post-back-to-school-kits. Next, we either reconnect that student with the friend who invited him or her initially, or we connect him or her with one of our student leaders.


Step 5: Data Entry

The next day is all about follow up. We add that student and all encompassing information to our database so we can continue to connect and be in ministry with student and family!


Robert is the High School Youth Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL. Robert has been working with students for over seven years; four of which at Trinity UMC. Robert grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2012 with a degree in religious studies. Currently, he is working on his masters in Youth Ministry at the Center for Youth Ministry Training. He and his wife Brittany love great coffee, hiking, bon-fires, tacos, CrossFit and N*Sync. You can follow him on Twitter at @robertsturdi.


  1. I like this approach, but I am wondering if this approach would be practical with small youth groups? I ask because I don’t want to come off as someone who doesn’t want to engage with the on-again, off-again youth that attend our ministry.

    • Our church is also very small. If I have 4 Youth it’s a great Sunday. If we get 6 youth, it’s a record-breaker! Is there a way to do something similar, but for much smaller groups?