We’ve all seen the kids standing on the side of the playground watching all of the other kids race from play set to play set. They watch what is going on with great interest. They try to convince themselves to go out and join in on the fun, but they simply don’t have the courage to take the first step. If someone would come over and walk them to the playground—that would make a significant difference.
As young adult ministry leaders, most of us can say we’ve all had those young adults that have been on the edge of our ministry, but simply have never taken that first step of really becoming a “part” of the group. What approaches we can take with these young adults to convince them that taking that first step will be worth the risk? How can we become aware of what is holding them back from becoming involved with the young adult ministry in our church?
Here are three thoughts about getting the young adults on the edge of your ministry to consider taking the next step:
1. Always keep an eye out for those on the edge of your ministry.
We don’t mean to, but sometimes we simply don’t see the people on the edge of the ministry we lead. It’s easy to constantly interact with the young adults that are actively involved and are consistently present for get-togethers, small group, and worship. However, as the leader of the group, never neglect keeping a keen eye out for the individuals that show up every few weeks or periodically for a social gathering. Chances are, those individuals are not plugged in anywhere and need to be encouraged to take a step of becoming more involved with the group.
When you see these individuals, make sure you have some interaction with them. Find out what interests them so that there can be future conversation. And pray specifically for ways that you and the young adult group can connect with them so that they can become a part of the community.
2. Write a note to them.
We all love getting mail! There is nothing like a handwritten note that shows that someone is thinking about you. Don’t neglect the opportunity to connect with the young adults on the edge of the ministry you lead by sending them a note of encouragement, a thinking-of-you note, or congratulations on a recent job promotion or graduation. These young adults need to know that you genuinely care about what is going on in their lives. Speaking words of encouragement go a long way to those that are wondering, “Do they really care?”
3. Ask them to assist in an area of the ministry.
Many times young adults on the edge of a ministry are waiting to be asked to become involved. They simply may not know how to take the step of getting further involved. It’s a powerful statement to someone that is on the outside looking in to be asked to help by someone in leadership in the group. This one ask may be the catalyst that the young adult needs to become more involved.
We simply cannot take an “oh well” approach with individuals that are on the edge of the ministries that we lead. As leaders, we need to be intentional about seeing these young adults and giving them opportunities to take that step of involvement.
Jesus modeled a life of seeing people and inviting them into a relationship with Him. It did not matter who they were or what they’d done; His life was consistently focused on those that needed to know of His hope and forgiveness. May we as young adult ministry leaders never forget the One we point others to with our actions.
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark on Twitter.