Strategic Theme #3 - RECLAIMING
The General Conference Youth Ministries Department firmly believes in the need of facing the challenge of looking for and reclaiming the lost. We have always been attentive to and cared about young people that are born in families already in the church; but they are leaving the church like water between our fingers. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, shows us how Christ, as the Good Shepherd, looks for His lost sheep until it is found; while leaving the other 99 in a safe place. As youth pastors we must imitate this example.
Create an extensive list of all the young people registered in your AYS group and find out who is actually attending and who is not. If it’s not possible to get a complete list, use the names you have and then ask the young people of your church for names and addresses of their friends that used to come, but no longer attend church. Assign someone to work with the missing members when you make contact.
Have an annual Re-Encounter program, spanning three months, culminating in a Homecoming Sabbath celebration. Start a Prayer list for all inactive youth.
Call young people who are not attending and invite them to social activities. Give them time to decide. If you have called them once, twice or even three times and they do not respond do not be discouraged, try again.
Start group visits. If possible have the meetings in the homes of the missing young people. The pastor and the friends of the missing youth play a very important role in winning them back. Invite friends to accompany you on these visits.
Hold an annual Conference/Division-wide Homecoming Sabbath where the whole program is specifically arranged with the returning youth in mind. This should be held in all churches on the same date.
Organize a Youth Mentoring program. Each returning young person should be linked with an established believer who can encourage them. Prepare a Youth Mentoring Manual.
Educate the church so that they can be friendly and warm towards the returning young people. Allow the young people space to grow and develop in their Christian experience.
Help returning young people to become involved in the life of the church. If possible link them with a youth small group.