Do-it-yourself youth group
By Jennifer Brown
Answer God’s call and ask someone to church.
That’s how Tyler Morey, a freshman at Kimberly High School, in Kimberly, Wis., got more than 110 students to come to his youth group.
Tyler says his calling to invite people to youth activities began in the seventh grade after he attended a church retreat. There he was asked to spend six months thinking and praying about inviting friends to church. Long before the six months were up, Tyler knew what he needed to do. Five people to invite immediately came to mind.
“Some of them were my best friends, but some were just people I knew who were in need of God,” Tyler says. Three who came to his church, Fox Valley Christian Fellowship of the Assemblies of God, are now “hard-core” Christians, Tyler says. He keeps planting seeds with the remaining two.
Tyler has continued to invite students to his youth group. At least 15 have accepted Christ for the first time, and many more have rededicated their lives after hearing the message of God’s salvation.
“I was really amazed that it was so easy,” Tyler says. “I really didn’t have to do much but invite them. My pastor’s message did all the work. God really talked through those messages.”
Tyler’s church began just seven years ago and didn’t even have a youth group. Today, youth ministry events draw an average of 90 to 100 students; many Tyler invited directly or indirectly.
Here’s how to get started connecting your friends with what’s going on at your church:
Tyler’s strategy is simple. Make a list of people you want to pray for and invite to church. Anyone can be on the list. Friend or foe — it doesn’t matter. People around you need God. Color-code the list if you want, or circle people whom you want to make sure to invite this week. But don’t limit yourself; invite anyone when the opportunity comes along, because you don’t know what God has planned for the people you invite.
“There’s nothing to lose if you invite people,” Tyler says. “Either they say no or they say yes. And if they say yes, that’s the best thing that could ever happen. That’s the chance for them to know God.”
When it comes to inviting, make it easy for people who want to come.
“My catch phrase is, ‘Do you need a ride?’” Tyler says. “I’ll invite people at school, and if they say yes I’ll call them after school to see if they need a ride to youth.” Tyler’s mom helps pick up kids.
What’s great about this strategy is that others will start to join in on the invites.
“We saw significant growth because people said, ‘If Tyler can do it, so can I,’” says Tyler’s youth pastor, Brian Pingel. “It’s not a checklist mentality. It really is caring for people, and we’ve seen that heart spread.”
Keep it up.
When things get tough — keep it up. People will say no, but don’t get discouraged. “There were times when people didn’t really want to come … but I had to remember that I had planted a seed that might grow into something later in life. And hopefully, someday, they might remember me inviting them,” Tyler says.
Sometimes it might take longer than you hope before someone says yes to an invitation, but keep it up.
“There’s not really a specific limit on how many times to invite,” Tyler says. “It really depends on the person. Sometimes I’ll give people a break so that I’m not bugging them. I’ve invited people for a month straight and sometimes they give in, sometimes they don’t.”
After two years of Tyler’s outreach, many students are used to his invitations and are not as receptive. “Tyler has faced a lot of resistance this year,” Pastor Brian says.
Despite this resistance, Tyler keeps on inviting people who have turned back to their old ways. “I do see the devil trying to discourage me … but I’m definitely not going to stop,” he says. “It may get harder, and less people may come, but even if I invite one person, that would be good. God would like that … because I am serving Him — or at least trying.”
Jennifer Brown is National Youth Ministries editorial assistant.
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