School Christian Groups: How to get people to turn up
Build up your school Christian group with these great practical tips.
Build it by Going
Often when we think about growing our group (no matter what kind of group it is), we ask the question: How do I get people to turn up? This seems like a pretty good way of doing things. Let’s call it the 'If you build it, they will come' strategy. But imagine for a second what would happen if that was God’s tagline. What if Jesus had only ever sat in the churches and said 'Come on in and hear about me!' or worse, what if God had sat in heaven and said ‘Hello? Can anyone hear me up here?’. I wonder how many people would have heard.
But that wasn’t God’s tagline! He didn’t ask how he could get people to come to him. He asked the right question: How can I meet people? He came to us as Jesus. And Jesus went all over the towns, cities and countryside meeting people where they were at. When thinking about how to grow our groups, it’s worth thinking about how we can meet people where they are at. So here are a couple of examples:
1. Run your group in a public space
Think: where are most of the students in your school during recess and lunch? I’m gonna take a stab and say it’s NOT in a classroom. If you’re going to meet them where they’re at, then you need to keep that in mind. You don’t have to run your group locked away in a classroom. Maybe you could run it in the playground? Or in your school hall? Or outside the canteen? Where is a spot that lots of people will be walking past, see you and have the opportunity to join you? Remember you’re trying to make it easy for them to come! And remember you don’t have to run it in a public place every week. Just keep thinking about how/where you can meet people where they’re at.
Note: Always ask a teacher before you do any of these things!
2. Do something to serve your school
One of the best ways to grow your group is by serving others. When people see Christians serving like Jesus did, it’s so different from the world around us and it’s very attractive.
- Could you give out free milkshakes one lunch time just because you love Jesus and you want others to know him?
- Could you offer to paint a classroom or plant some trees in the playground?
- Could you bake cookies for all the teachers in your Maths staffroom?
- Could you ask your school principal to share some prayer points for the school with you so that you can be praying?
Again, always ask a teacher before you do any of these things!
Build it by Growing
It’s good to make opportunities to meet people where they are at! But we also need to think about how to run a group that will grow. Here are a few simple ways to do that:
1. Make a plan
If you want your group to grow, then you need to run something that’s worth coming to. If your group never starts on time and none of the leaders really know what’s going on and the activities don’t work because they aren’t well prepared and it’s all really awkward, I would be surprised if anyone ever came back! No one wants to sit through that!
I’m not saying that everything has to run perfectly and smoothly with lights and a smoke machine and free TVs for everyone. But if you want your group to grow, you need to run something that is worth turning up to. And in order for that to happen you need to plan. Run a weekly leaders meeting or have a planning meeting in the holidays to plan out who’s doing what for the whole term. And think carefully about how to make it a place where your friends will want to come because it engages with their lives.
2. Make time to pray
In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 Paul says: 'I planted the seed [in the Corinthians], Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but only God, who makes things grow'.
If this is true, then it’s so important to pray! You could have the best ideas and be super well prepared but it’s God who works to save people and God who will bring people to your group to do this. So we need to pray that he would do that!
3. Make sure to invite people
All Christians everywhere need to be passionate about talking to their friends about Jesus. But that can be a very daunting task on your own. Inviting them to your Christian group can give you a jumping-off point to start talking to them about deep things. It’s also important for the Christians to be passionate about inviting their friends that already know Jesus so that they can encourage each other. Think about how your group can be a place that encourages the Christians in your school to be passionate about their friends knowing Jesus and encouraging each other. When people are passionate they will take every opportunity to invite their friends to the Christian group.
I want to finish by emphasising again that you need to pray! We have a good God who wants all people everywhere to know him. He loves it when we as Christians care about meeting together. So rely on him to grow your group. Do this by praying. I’m praying for you too!