This series is brought to you by our guest blogger, Brandon Hudson. Brandon is our Associate Student Pastor here at The Summit Church, specifically giving oversight to our Student Small Group Ministry. 


A lot of attention in churches and student ministries goes towards getting new students through the door, whether that be a weekly event, Summer camp or a small group. We have special events, bring in guest speakers, go to school football games and think of every new way under the sun to reach that student who hasn’t come before. But how many of these students who are coming through our doors are coming back? After all, the goal isn’t a first time guest but a student being discipled and getting plugged into authentic Christian community. So how do we do that? How do we get that student back? How do we close the proverbial “back door”?

Relationship: The number 1 reason a student is going to come back is because of a relationship they formed. At first, this is usually done by a leader intentionally reaching out, giving them a high five and learning their name but eventually students need to be connected to other students. These relational connectors are what make students look forward to coming back for and give them some comfort when they do come back.
Group Metrics: There are 2 types of metrics: one for planning and one for discipleship. Group planning is just interested in numbers so that you have enough seats, volunteers, food, etc. Discipleship numbers track not just numbers, but who is actually there and how often. You have to find some way of knowing when a student comes and how often they are coming.
Follow-up: Once you know who has come and how often, what is the plan for a student who missed a week, 2 weeks or a month? Who is doing the follow up, you or the group leader? How are you contacting them, text, email, Facebook or in person? For example, here is what we do.
  • If a student misses one week, the group leader sends a text or Facebook message within the first 48 hours (email is for old people).
  • If they miss 2 weeks in a row, the leader will make a call to the student within the first 24 hours
  • if they miss 3 straight weeks, the leader notifies a staff member who makes a call to the student and/or parents to check in.

The purpose of these contacts is to show care and support, not to condemn. We desire to see how we can come alongside the family to assist the student to stay connected, not point fingers and tell them where they are missing the mark. These simple measures let students and parents know that we care and are committed to their family’s and student’s discipleship.

Language: Our language needs to be very intentional as students are leaving. We need to go beyond “I hope to see you again” which lacks confidence and conviction and is more a plea. We need to sell them on the next meeting or event coming up and speak with a belief that they will be there, making them feel like they will be missed and missing out if they aren’t.
So what about you? What does your ministry do to help students stick? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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