Friday, July 5, 2013

Tips for Including New People in Youth Group

Welcome ... and make sure you mean it. 

During the summer, we sometimes have a different crowd as many youth are traveling plus you might have some youth visiting members of your church & community that normally aren't around during the school year.  Of course, we also welcome new members of the youth group as kids move up from one school/grade to another.  

In my youth group, we treat the summer as the "best of both worlds" with the recent graduates and the incoming 6th graders both eligible to participate in youth group activities.  However, one exception for that is we require that they complete 6th grade before they can participate in the Youth Mission Trip.  However, the risk in that is when the youth come back excited from the trip others feel left out.  Hopefully, it gets them excited about going next summer. However, you have to make sure that any activity can stand alone while having lasting impact AND making sure that those unable to attend don't feel excluded. That can be a touch challenge but it's important. 

Also, be sure to have some activities scheduled soon after the trip as well as having activities before the trip that aren't exclusively about the trip.  This isn't just about summer trip but about other events throughout the year for which some might be unable to attend. 

At times, I've actually had some older youth serve as mentors to new youth to make sure that they feel welcome. That way, it's not just me looking out for them but I have others involved in making it be a youth fellowship group. 

How do you make others feel welcome when they attend your youth ministry?  

Thank you!

Mark R. Whitaker 
Youth & Communications Director and Boy Scout Coordinator @ Avondale UMC
Advisory Board Chairman for youTheology @ Saint Paul School of Theology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

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