When new students show most youth pastors ask how they came to attend. I am happy to have them join us no matter what the circumstance but I am even happier when we they come to us not as a member of another youth ministry but simply looking for a place to belong for the first time.
Last night we had a few new students visit who have no other church. It was our monthly "fun night" and the perfect time for our regulars to invite their friends. One of the friends enjoyed herself, asked questions about our purpose and other things we do. At the end of the discussion she said she would like to come and try out more of what we have to offer. She asked, "Is it alright that I don't know much?"
This was another reminder of how "youth groups" or churches can be perceived. To the outside world how many other people are wondering if it is okay to belong to the "club?" I am blessed to be in one of the warmest, welcoming churches I have ever experienced and yet still we hear this question posed in a variety of ways by a variety of people.
Would I say we are being intentionally exclusive? No way. Would I say we need to be intentionally inclusive? You betcha!! I have found I can never say enough, "Your friends are always welcome!" They don't need to have a resume, they don't need to know much or anything about God, church or how to sing song. They are simply invited to come into the "living room" of our lives and ministry, grab a soft drink from the refrigerator and hang out with us for this life and the life to come.