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Getting Students Into Class—and Keeping Them There

By Carey Huffman

Let’s face it, numbers aren’t everything, but we would all like to boost attendance. While nothing can guarantee participation, there are at least a dozen things you can do to get more students into class—and keep them coming back for more.

  1. Build relationships with students. Their class connection can depend largely on their tie to you. As relationships build, so will your influence.
  2. Foster friendships. Teens attend events based on who else will be there. Class activities should help students connect with new friends.
  3. Practice hospitality. People go where they feel welcome and appreciated. Newcomers are likely to return only if they connect with several students during their initial visit. Students should greet, register and introduce guests to as many others as possible.
  4. Be prepared. Anything worthwhile takes time. Kids deserve more than a "Saturday night special" if they choose to attend on Sunday morning.
  5. Get students involved. Active roles in lesson preparation and presentation (drama, illustrations, testimonies, teaching, follow-up) give students a stake in the process. Interest and attention increase with students to student ministry.
  6. Make it relevant. Students will value time in class as scriptural principles are applied to issues that affect their everyday lives.
  7. Meet their needs. Signs will accompany ministry of the Word as you take time in class for Spirit-dependant ministry (not just prayer requests) that meets specific needs.
  8. Apply technology. Add relevant appeal to lessons by using this "language" of the culture in which students have grown up.
  9. Use student video. Footage of students and events can lend unique perspective to illustrations and promotion. Some students will come just to see themselves in action.
  10. Do promotions. Periodic contests or special events give an immediate boost and may take student participation to the next level.
  11. Keep in touch. Consistent contact and follow-up gives you a pre-class student connection and often yields significant increase in overall participation. Focusing on just a few students per week, you can achieve full coverage every month or two.
  12. Tie class to the overall ministry. More students are likely to be part of the broader youth ministry picture. Coordinate your class with other events and make it indispensable by discipling students for all facets of ministry.
  13. Have Food.

Whatever you do, be creative and have fun. Anticipation of your class will build among students. If teens think they will miss something enjoyable and worthwhile, they’ll be there on Sunday morning.