Archive for October 18th, 2007

How To Make Youth Group Visitors Feel Welcomed

Over the past few years we have seen over 100 new youth walk through our doors.  We have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to greeting and welcoming them.  We have learned many things over the years…

  • Bringing first timers up onto the stage to introduce them to the group.
  • Having them take part in a “visitor challenge”.
  • Asking them to share something embarrassing about themselves.

These would all go down in the “mistakes” category.

There are around 12 schools that feed into our student ministry.  The chances of a student joining us for the first time and not knowing someone at Impact are small.  As students arrive at Impact we greet them all.  When we meet someone who is new we find out what school they attend.  With that information we connect them with a student that they may know from their school who is a regular at Impact.  The “regular” then will show the new student around the building, sit with them during worship and the message, and bring them to their cell (small) group.

We have an open-door policy for parents so if they come in with the student we get to know them and extend the invitation to hang around that night at Impact.  The bottom line is that parents are trusting us with their kid.  We want to ensure them that we will do what we can to help their kid connect and feel welcomed at Impact.  If the student is dropped off at the door we do what we can at the end of the night to meet their parents (sometimes that means taking a walk out to their car as the student heads out for their ride.)  We are intentional about doing this for a number of reasons.

  • We are a family ministry.
  • We want to know where the kids are coming from.
  • We want to help ease any concerns that parents may have.
  • As we strive to partner with parents we need their feedback on how their kids are doing.

We also try and follow up with each new student a day or two after they have joined us.  That means that when they are in their small group the leader gets their contact info from them.  We will send them a small card thanking them for joining us, send a quick email letting them know that we were glad they checked out Impact, and we’ll have their cell group leader give them a call during that week to answer any questions they may have after attending once.

Many times other students will get their email or IM and connect with them as well.  As we try and involve students in all aspects of leadership at Impact it is their connections with the new students that seem to make the greatest difference on whether or not a student returns for a second time.

I personally try and learn all of the students names and learn something about them so that I can reconnect with them on their 2nd and 3rd times back.  By remembering something about them it makes them feel really accepted and cared for.  However, and I wish I didn’t need to clarify this, it’s not done as a gimmick to win over the students – we do all of this because we care for and are passionate about seeing this generation connect in relationship with Jesus Christ and One Another.

Are we missing the mark in any of these areas?  Sometimes we strike out.  While we are very intentional in our approach to making visitors feel welcome there are times when we miss a student.  When we learn of this happening it just makes us work harder the next time.

thoughts from anyone reading this?  additions that we could implement?  always looking for ways to improve…  let us know.

(This post was inspired by a list from Tim Schmoyer over at the Life in Student Ministry blog)

ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Comes to NH!

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At 8 o’clock this morning, with the bus at his back and his trusty megaphone in hand Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Ty Pennington announced: “Good Morning Voisine Family”. The Voisine’s got a wakeup call that dreams are made of from ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, R.J. Moreau Communities and it’s partners to unite build and change – everything for this deserving family.

Manchester, NH, October 18, 2007

Is 8:00 am too early for a megaphone at your door? It depends on who is shouting on it. When Reynald and Casey Voisine opened the door to their rental apartment who did they see but Ty and the rest of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition team, ready to end what can only be described as a nightmare; a nightmare that started with the
Mothers Day flood in 2006. Reynald and Casey were high school sweethearts. They married, had 4 beautiful children and bought a small but cozy home in Manchester, NH. They had taken the right steps and laid the groundwork for a life to be “lived happily ever after”.

Who would know that what started as a common spring shower would turn their lives upside down. In May 2006, after 4 days of heavy rain it was clear to Reynald and Casey Voisine and their 4 children that the water rising outside their home was far more than a puddle. Their house wasn’t in a flood zone and there was a 4-lane highway between their neighborhood and the river. Yet the water kept rising and had made its way into the house, soaked the carpet and rose to the level of the electrical outlets. Reynald called the fire department for help, but was told they needed to shut the power off before the firemen would attempt a rescue as they feared electrocution. Reynald made his way to the breaker box and left his family shivering in the dark waiting for help to arrive. While firemen were able to get down to the house, they were having trouble getting back out. Reynald’s Dad actually had to drive his 4-wheel drive pick-up truck up to the house and so the family and stranded rescue workers could climb in the back and make their way to safety.

FEMA declared their house a total loss and advised that they should demolish it and apply for a loan. Thinking that FEMA knew best, Reynald had a family member in construction demolish it for free. Then the Voisines used the money in FEMA relief to haul the remains of their home to the dump.

The Voisine figured things would get better once they received the loan. But then the
unimaginable happened: they were denied for the loan due to their credit not being up to par due to Reynald’s outstanding medical bill from a misdiagnosed bout with appendicitis. On top of not having a place to live the Voisine’s are still paying their monthly mortgage on the property plus rent as they are now living in an apartment next door to their now vacant lot. Down, but not broken, Reynald and Casey are struggling and working hard to keep their family together. FEMA provided some rental assistance but it’s about to run out.

To help rescue this family, the Team at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition called on Builders Reggie Moreau and Jon Lariviere of R.J. Moreau Communities to perform a miracle: organize and bring together people from the community to build a new home for the Voisines, make it meet the standards and quality demanded by the Extreme design team and build it in less than seven days.

Reggie and Jon’s response? Bring it on! “ We had no fear in accepting this challenge because we knew how the people in our community have always responded to those in need. We knew that we could count on the help of thousands and as everyone will see over the coming week we were not wrong!”.

While hundreds have already stepped forward there is still a need for both skilled and unskilled volunteers as well as for funds. Please visit the project website at www.unitebuildchange.com for information on the project, to learn about when volunteers are needed and to see progress as the home comes together. New Hampshire is helping and the world is watching!

Unite. Build. Change. Everything.

Become part of the miracle.