Systematic Relationships

This is a follow up to the post and discussion from a couple weeks ago regarding regarding the importance of junior high relationships. Here's a follow up thought:

As your ministry grows, the ability to be relational with students becomes both more important and more challenging at the same time. I think there are probably three strategic ways to keep the relational touch in a ministry that is growing:

1) Recruit more adult leaders to help thus keeping the student-to-leader ratio small enough to ensure relational ministry.
2) Implement some sort of small group structure that allows the big group to feel smaller and helps emphasize the importance of relational ministry.
3) Create systems that help the ministry 'feel' smaller and more relational.

I think strategies 1 and 2 are probably getting most of the effort and attention (at least I know they are in our ministry). But what about strategy number 3? What systems can and should be in place to ensure kids don't fall through the cracks? What type of follow up strategy? How do you track kids? Do you take attendance? Do you have a database software and if so what is it (this is an issue for us right now)?

There's nothing sexy about systems, but certainly they are the third leg of the relational stool.



Mike said...

3) Create systems that help the ministry 'feel' smaller and more relational.

That seems to be the place where if the person isn't naturally a hospitable person, they have to be taught. Which points back to the training of those already in place. The feeling smaller comes with the hospitality of the welcoming group. Patient, loving, and open giving of the host is where the relationship is found.

I don't like the taking of names because that feels like consumerism. However in an organization, name taking is necessary for the continuity of experience.

So are our kids products in a service oriented experience? I don't think anyone here thinks that, but I do think we have been taught to think like that.

What if leaders were giving the opportunity to make those systems for themselves? This would mean that there will be many different
"systems" but each one will be tailored to the person and group for which it is relevant.

This is much harder for the person or group overseeing the whole cloud of witnesses but hey if it works for these mini "pastorates" why not?

Kurt Johnston said...

hmmm...I like it, I think. But what system would be used to ensure the mini-systems were actually happening? :)

'neice said...

When I was part of a much larger ministry my "small group" (I use quotes because I had about 25 kids+ in my group) was totally tracked by me and others by the adults leading that group. So, we made initial contact when kids were MIA. For the most part it worked, but it was up each adult leader to actually follow up.

samwise said...

yeah...#3...the big question...we're struggling with that part. i.e. wanted to do a invite to all the fifth graders to invite to jr high group...found out we don't have such an animal. i've been using youth track for the past year and its a very good program. there are some limits but you can work around. i've been leading the team to find our next step which will either be fellowship one or community church builder. not sure which exactly yet, but we've got to do it. we're a small outpost with large outpost issues. we are averaging 150 elementary age weekly at two campuses. as i've talked to others who are using these kind of tracker systems they say the students think its cool...especially if you go to touch screen access points. both systems have web portals and are adding a social networking platform so they'll have a feel like facebook/myspace. interesting stuff. at this level it really about what i call "touch points" we've got to be intentional on this stuff. also if you're not on facebook yet...its a good mid-step. it has some powerful group utilities that let you create and manage events through invites to see who's going to attend. this would be a good question for josh and tony on their podcast.

woody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Pauli said...

On #3...

I'm building a youth ministry in a larger church but this is what I'm doing now:

The model I have is using small groups on a weekly basis for both junior and senior high. Each adult small group mentor has a black case that has a note pad, pen, relevant handouts, a data sheet for their kids (address, phone #'s, grade, school, email), and an attendance sheet for their kids.

I collect the cases at the end of the night and compile the attendance numbers but the sheets stay in the case. This way my mentors can see if a kid has been MIA. If a kid has been MIA for two weeks they get a call from the mentor to see what's going on.

As long as I keep on top of it, and make sure the mentors are keeping on top of their records, it's working great. I imagine I'll streamline it a bit this year.

I know that as we grow though this system will eventually have to get moved to an administrative assistant.


jonrearden said...

we have a fairly large youth church. last night high school was 175 our middle school was 90. those are average numbers for a wednesday. and we "check-in" every student that walks through the door.

we have one entrance door into our facility. students "check-in" in a foryer and for now we have lists with our entire roster on them they come in cross their name off the list. they have to come 3 times before they make "the list" and they are itching to get on "the list." this not only let's us as pastors know who's been here but it also (and sometime more importantly) tells us who's been missing. they miss a couple weeks they get a card and/or a phone call.

we have student leaders assigned to the entrance door to greet other students and adult leaders at a counter to make another connection and help with the check in process.

our students, even though they are in a fairly large setting, feel an immediate connection because there are 4 or 5 people that connect with them before they even get into the main building.

there ya go,

Kris said...

We have around 150 jr. highers each weekend and use Youth Tracker. We have a laptop that they can sign in on. Our leaders are good at noticing new students and often say "come on over and enter your name on our laptop". It is hooked to the internet and works slick. During service we pick a few kids at random (part of the software) that signed up and give away prizes - hence the motivation to sign-up! Each week, from our database of students we can send bday cards, and letters to those that are new. The system works well, is not too in-your-face-corporate and gives us a chance to work on getting to know our students...