Another huge thanks to the all the youth workers who brought students to Fire-Up Sr. High Conference! It was a powerful weekend. I praise the Lord for weekends like this, but I also know they have their purpose. The annual Fire-Up Conference doesn’t replace walking daily with kids in your church or community. But, weekends like Fire-Up can be a catalyst to students making decisions, hearing the truth more clearly, and experiencing Christ’s love. The follow up is an opportunity to open the door for more. Here are some ideas for follow up with your students.
1. Talk about Jesus – Weekends are full of memories. From the trip, to the late nights, from the conversations to the weekend programming. But, the main goal of any Christian youth conference or retreat is to focus on Jesus and to grow in him. Transformation of students is what we are going for and the weekend is a good springboard for talking about transformed lives in the name of Jesus.
2. Pictures / Updates on Social Media – Post pictures, testimonies and videos on all of your social media sites – for the student ministry and the church. If you aren’t connected in this way, it’s a great opportunity to invite one of your older students or a volunteer team member to become engaged. Put them in charge of social media for your ministry. Here are some of the social media sites for Fire Up: www.twitter.com/troyilfireup www.facebook.com/fireupconference www.instagram.com/goharvest
3. Follow Up Letter – Send a letter to each student who attended the weekend. Ask for feedback. Encourage them in their walk. Often, I will write one general letter and then include a list of each person who attended the event with a couple lines thanking them personally or recounting something funny that happened. This way, you only write one letter and everyone gets to see what you said about everyone else. (Note: of course, anything personal wouldn’t be shared to the entire group).
4. Discuss / Evaluate – Take time to discuss and evaluate the weekend. Find out what your students connected with. How will they incorporate what they have learned? What ways will your group grow because of this? How could the trip have been better? Will you go back? Who will you bring with you?
5. Invite Them to Talk – I heard a youth pastor say that he got into the van after the weekend and asked the students be silent for two minutes before all the normal van ride chit chat. After the two minutes, each one began to talk about how the messages from the weekend made an impact on them. They talked about their own lives and souls. They shared with one another while each listened to the others. That youth pastor said, “ten years ago, I would have been talking the whole time, now, with a little more wisdom, I just listened.”
6. Utilize the energy of the weekend – Utilize the weekend as long as you can. Recount memories and sermons you all heard. Share some stories with others in your group who didn’t attend. Have a picture or video night next time you meet. Follow up a month after Fire-Up to have a conversation about their spiritual lives and how they are doing.
7. Invite them to share with others – One great way to tie up loose ends is to invite your students to share to a group. This could be done on Sunday morning during worship or whenever you have adults gathered. Invite the students to share how God worked in their lives.
8. Don’t Live From Weekend to Weekend – Fight the mindset of going from one event to the next so you don’t lose the feeling of a fired up faith. Daily walking the road of discipleship and learning from Jesus is what keeps us fruitfully moving forward. A special breakfast for those who attended the conference each week for a month is an idea for keeping it grounded. Often, I think youth ministry leaders over estimate what a weekend can do and underestimate what a year of regular connecting can do. As I’ve said a million times, events like Fire-Up are a vehicle, and a tool. And I believe added into the mix of your year long youth ministry is powerful. But don’t just wait until next weekend conference or summer camp to have spiritual growth moments with your students – keep the ball rolling all through the year.
9. Pray for the students – Praying for your students is important. Develop a church wide prayer team for the needs of the next generation. Set yourself up with a prayer team comprised of a handful of committed and faithful leaders who would be willing to receive texts from you about specific needs in the lives of students in the ministry. Remind the church in the articles and publications you write in to pray for the teens. Develop a prayer plan to keep yourself committed to prayer. Here’s an example of my ministry prayer plan. Maybe yours could be something similar – on Mondays, you pray for the students by name. On Tuesdays you pray for your ministry leaders. On Wednesdays you could pray for the families and homes of the students. On Thursdays you could pray for the schools (you might even specifically drive to the school to pray).
My hope is that weekend events like Fire-Up, Ignition, The Light Kids Conference, Beautiful U Girls Conference and all the events we help host would be seen as a partnership in everyday ministry to students! If we can be of help to you, contact us!
Any other ways you would follow up with your students after a weekend conference or event?