Vision is important. Mission is important. Having the right leaders is important. There are so many important aspects of ministry that you need to have to be successful. However, if you want to grow you ministry, the environment is just as important as the above items. In fact,I believe that if you want people coming back and grow your ministry, it has so much to do about the environment you create.
For instance, in Student Ministry, you can have the funniest skits planned, best worship set and most engaging talk, but if your environment is cold and you lack leaders (students and adult volunteers) who are not friendly and engaging with the students, then students may not feel welcomed and may not come back.
That is why it is so important to make your student ministry environment as welcoming as possible. Here are some things you can do to create a great environment:
- Have a dedicated welcome or greeter team that makes sure every student gets greeted and connected with leaders and students. Make sure your greeter team is in place at least 5 minutes before group is suppose to start.
- Have music playing in the background as students arrive. No one wants to walk into a youth room with dead air. Gently play music in the speaker as students arrive.
- Make sure students aren’t sitting waiting for something to happen. By that I mean when you are done with one game, don’t make the students sit waiting for the leaders to set up something next. That can kill the momentum of the day so make sure you walk through the order of the youth event with the leaders before the event so each leader knows what is next and is prepared that when one part of the event is done, the next is ready to go and the excitement and energy can be maintained. If students are waiting around for 5 minutes while the next thing is being set up, it can kill the energy and excitement.
Just like a student ministry evnironment, it is key to have a welcoming environment for your Online Ministry as well. After all, you have have a great production of the worship service but if your Chat Hosts are not engaging, friendly and encouraging, then people may not be as eager to come back to your church service.
What can you do to create a great, safe and friendly environment:
- Make sure your Chat Host is on before the service starts with a welcoming message. For instance you could say something like, “Hi, my name is Tom and I’m your Chat Host for this service. Thanks for joining us, we are so glad you are here. When you sign in, say ‘hello’ and where you are watching from”. This introduces you to everyone and gives them “permission” to join the conversation.
- As people will want to be able to ask questions and share thoughts, make sure you see their questions and you recognize them. However, as people share you want to make sure you protect everyone in the chat room. Some people who join the chat room may be there for wrong reasons. If someone is acting inappropriately and refuse to be positive in the chat room, mute and/or block them so
- Keep it focused on the service and what people are learning. As great as it is to make people feel comfortable, keep the distractions limited and keep the focus on the service, not a random thought or happening that someone is talking about. You want people to share and that is ok, as long as you quickly refocus the chatting to what is happening in the service.
These are just a variety of options you have at your disposal to make your student or online ministry events a welcoming environment. Strive towards creating an excellent environment. But, as a word of caution, strive towards warmth and friendly environment first and not towards excellence. As Kara Powell said in her session at Orange ’17 said, “Excellence can be the death grip of warmth”. Being consumed with excellence can create a cold, stale feeling whereas if you are striving towards warmth and care, it can create an atmosphere where people will want to come back because of how they felt during the service.
Make sure your envornemt is warm and friendly for everyone who comes in and there will be a much higher likelihood that you’ll retain more people at your next student or online event.
So what do you think? What do you do to create the right environment in your ministry? Share your thoughts and experiences below or on social media.