Friday, November 19, 2010

    GREAT YOUTH MINISTRY IDEA: The Involvement Funnel

    One youth minister's idea for turning the attractional approach to youth ministry upside down.

    The predominant approach to youth ministry in the United States is often referred to as the attractional approach.  It generally focuses on attracting youth to local ministries with entertainment and large group activites designed to get teens in the door in hopes that they might eventually become regular participants in weekly meetings and small groups.  St. Louis are youth minister Nikomas Perez serves a large church and has every reason to rely on this attractional model of ministry and yet he suggests turning that model completely on its head:

    The old funnel strategy of getting students has inherent problems that make actually harder for students to get involved. This year our student ministry is trying a new strategy. It's similar to the old one, but with a few tweaks. Here's what we're doing now:

    Basically, we're flipping the funnel upside down and re-purposing our big events. Here's what this flip does:

    1. Small Groups: Our small groups are no longer going to be two or three steps down the road of involvement. They are going to be immediately available to a student when the encounter our student ministry.

    2. Weekly Large Group Gatherings: Our large group gathering is now a gathering of all of our small groups into one location, rather than a gathering of individuals with nothing in common yet, hoping to get connected.

    3. Big Events: Most of our big events are not about flash and awe anymore. We still make them big, flashy and awe-filled, but not for attraction purposes, but for fun and memories. But the big attraction is that we are all joining together to make a difference in the world or in our walk with Jesus.
    Read more about Nikomas' approach here and more about why the attractional approach just doesn't work here.


    Paul Turner said...

    Great simplified funnel. I'll be thinking on this. What was your process in paring it down and what did you cut out of the process?

    Nikomas said...

    the big thing we cut out was our "door" events. Stuff like big expensive New Years parties, Superbowl parties, end of the year parties, sixflag trips, etc." These were initially designed to be first contacts with new students.

    Now, we still do them we just do them in our small groups now. Example: instead of having one big superbowl party, we have a whole bunch of small groups put on their own superbowl party. Students are still encouraged to invite friends to it, but now it's in a student's home with fewer people and greater impact. We even provide a small budget for each group to do these kinds of events (which is still less than what we would have budgeted for a big event, and with more students able to connect).

    Our small groups are given the freedom to pick a few of our old "door" events and do them for their own group. Some have done hayrides with their groups, Christmas parties, etc. So far it's working well. I think it'll take a year or two to really evaluate it though.

    Anonymous said...

    Now that it has been a few months, how is this going?