by Lisa Birle
We’ve learned in our ministry that community is one of the biggest reasons students come to church—and stay at church. So every week, we make an announcement from the stage for our first and second-time guests to visit the “10-Minute Party” after the message. It’s ten minutes, so it’s short, and it’s a party, so it’s fun! The goal of the 10MP is to welcome new students, get their information so we can follow up with them the following week, give them a welcome gift and other resources, answer any questions they may have about our ministry, and help them feel welcome.
The 10MP is a simple table that is set up in our main foyer where students hang out after the service. We have banners, fun table cloths, and a bowl of candy. (If you want to make it more of a party, you can add Christmas lights, music, and even ask a volunteer to make cupcakes or brownies.) The table is usually manned by two volunteers and sometimes a staff member. We welcome new people and ask them to fill out a bright-colored connection card with their name, number, and e-mail. We also have Bibles if the student needs one, a staff-recommended book that we give them as a welcome gift (The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning is a great book for a new believer.), small group forms, and any other fliers or information that will point the student to places of connection. These free resources are a great way to bless someone’s brand new or recommitted walk with God and connect them to a community that will encourage and support them in their walk.
Part of the connection process at the 10MP is getting to know the student—asking them what brought them to Crave, how they heard about our ministry, where they work or go to school, what they’re passionate about (we often write down some of this info on the back of their card after they leave, to remember them better). We try hard to remember their name and face (facebook is a great tool for this!). The chaos and noise of an after-service crowd can certainly be distracting, but we make an effort to stay focused on new students and use eye contact as much as possible; being engaged is key. We want to show them that it matters to us that they are there.
The purpose of the 10MP is to connect people to the community. That is why following up with new students is so important! A couple days after the service, give them a call! We usually have a volunteer follow up—girls call girls and guys call guys. Ask them how they liked the service, if they have any questions, or if they want any resources to get more involved. We’ll tell them what’s happening this week at our ministry as well. A phone call is key; e-mail can be impersonal so try calling them first. At the end of the conversation thank them for their time and tell them you look forward to seeing them at church again.
Make new students feel welcomed, cherished, and accepted. By showing them we care and want them in our community, we are showing them that God cares and wants them in His family.