I once heard something during The Well For Youth Workers that has always stuck with me. The presenter said, “The Best Kept Secret in Youth Ministry is Follow Up.”
The power of that thought has stuck with me over the years because follow up is often an area we just don’t do well. Maybe you’re this way too, but I’m always thinking about the next thing and how little time there is to prepare for it. Follow up is an action item that can too easily land on the back burner and stay there. Here are some thoughts to spur on your follow up skills:
1) Schedule follow up
What gets scheduled gets done. If you don’t have time set aside for follow up on your calendar, you won’t do it. I think it’s best to do a little follow up each day, rather than wait until it all piles up.
2) Delegate follow up
There are people around you who would be happy to help send notes to people who missed or to new students. There are leaders and students alike who are capable of helping you follow up with connections, notes and personal contacts. This takes time initially but the future payoff is powerful.
3) Develop systems for follow up
Develop a system for sending thank you notes or welcome postcards. Have the stack of postcards ready to go and the stamps to send them. Have a system for entering names into a database of some kind. For email addresses, we typically use Constant Contact and it has worked really well for staying connected in email and on social media. Take time to develop your system now so you are ready for follow up as the need arises.
4) Follow up with new students
This trumps most other to do items. If a new student gets connected, if someone brings an unchurched friend from the community or a new student show up, ever leader should jump into action. Follow up by making sure you get their contact. If you didn’t get it, contact the friend that brought them. Send a phone call, text or email. Send a note in the mail. Or maybe do all of the above over the week. Don’t badger, but truly let them know how glad you were to have them. Add them to the email or texting list right away. Follow up to invite them to what is next. Follow up to get to know them or their family a little better. I remember visiting a church once in Indiana that had a “Dew Drop Team”. Following the Sunday evening student ministry meeting, a team of three seniors in high school would take a can of Mountain Dew with a welcome note attached and quietly place it on the porch of the visiting student so they found it the next morning.
5) Other ways you can follow up
Follow up with a new volunteer. Follow up with a parent who helped. Follow up with a guest speaker you had and send them a note. Follow up with the place you are going for this coming weekend conference. Follow up with students who you haven’t seen all year – check in with them. Follow up with church members who have students who are youth group age but aren’t involved. Follow up with families who have been having issues. Follow up on a conversation you had with a student during youth meeting. Follow up with the student who invited a friend and say thanks. Follow up with an idea someone gave to you. Follow up with a potential team member. Follow up on what you said you would do – sending an email, contacting someone, getting information for someone, etc.
How do you do it? What are your methods? What’s one creative way you follow up with new students in your ministry?
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