MeetUps: It's Not About The Numbers

We often say “It’s not about the numbers”, but let’s be honest… it’s a little bit about the numbers. No matter how great an event might be, if the numbers don’t meet expectations you feel at least a little bit of a let down. Sure the message was great, 5 students got baptized, and there were no angry parents in the parking lot, but… attendance was down 4.78% from our last service, so somehow it wasn’t a success.

Over the last couple of years, we have made an effort to shift our focus from building a crowd to building relationships with the students in the crowd. We’ve always given lip-service to this notion. It’s not a new idea. But we had to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Are we REALLY focused on building relationships, or do we care more about the numbers?”

One of the things that has helped us shift our focus is something we call “MeetUps.” Clever name, I know. MeetUps are simple. We post a time and a location on social media where some of our staff will be hanging out, then we show up and we hang out. That’s it.

Our goal isn’t to get hundreds of students to come to a MeetUp. Our goal is to get to know the ones that do. We have tried lots of things, but we have found that activities and food pave the way for conversations. Here are some things we consider when planning a MeetUp.

01 Go Easy

For the most part, we want to keep it simple with MeetUps. We want to be able to just show up and hang out without having to spend a ton of time planning and producing an event. We also want to make it as easy as possible for our students to come, so we go where they already go and we try not to stick to one area of town so that we can reach students from all over.

02 Go Cheap

We understand that the cost of an event can be a make or break for students, so we try to go to places that won’t require a ton of money. We frequent places like snow cone shacks, ice cream shops, free outdoor movies, and other free and cheap activities. One of our most popular yearly MeetUps is $2 Tuesday at our local minor league baseball team, where admission, hot dogs, popcorn, and fountain drinks are only $2. It is a lot of fun for not a lot of money.

03 Go Deep

A MeetUp is a great opportunity to meet new students and put names with faces that you see all the time. But it is also the perfect time to go beyond the surface level small talk and have more meaningful conversations and get to know your students better.

With MeetUps, it’s not about how many show up. It’s about getting to know the ones that do.

What have you done in your student ministry that’s working to build relationships?

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