Making positive first impressions on youth group visitors

Mark Batterson wrote about their bulletin’s facelift. He said, “Bulletins are first impression pieces so we take it pretty seriously.”

National Community Church bulletin

I never really thought of a church bulletin being a first impression of a church. This image of their new bulletin is really slick, especially compared to the black and white 12-point Arial font decorated with tacky clip-art that I usually see.

It makes me wonder what first impressions a new student might have when visiting my youth group and what very simple things I can do to enhance that experience. My ideas so far:

  • Make sure the visitor is welcomed by several different people who actually carry a conversation with him/her.
  • Have attractive information readily available that explains what the group is all about and why they should become a part of it.
  • Place signs in strategic locations so visitors can easily find their way around. Visitors are on new (potentially threatening) territory and must not feel lost or overwhelmed.
  • Visitors will sense the atmosphere from others and the environment, so intentionally set a tone of, “This is a fun place of genuine relationships.”

Youth Ministry Tip!
Perhaps one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard regarding a welcome team is sending your kids away individually to visit another youth group of the same size where they don’t know anyone. Let them experience how it feels to be the new kid and, based on that, develop ideas about how to address visitors in their own group. It’s amazing how many little details your students will assume about a group based on first impressions.

In case you missed it back in November, here’s a fun video to use for training a youth group welcoming team.

I’m sure there any many other ways to make a youth group visitor’s first impressions very positive. What other suggestions does anyone have?

Posted on December 20, 2006

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