Fostering Friendships: For Your Church

Friendships are the key to participation in church activities. This becomes more and more true the older the kids become. However, it’s true even down to the toddlers. If they get to know the kids in their class they will feel more secure being dropped off in the nursery and will be free to connect with others.

By the time a student hits Jr. High, if they do not have friends at church, they will not come!! If they do not come, we lose our ability to impact and encourage them to encounter Jesus and grow to be more like Him. So, it’s important to help kids either make friends at church events or bring friends to church events.

1.)    Communicate the importance to families of preschool and elementary kids.

  • How often do you have a young student drop off the face of the earth in 7th grade? You follow up with the family and they say, “Well, he just didn’t want to come anymore because he had no friends.”  The younger you are, the easier it is to make friends. If we can help our elementary students build lasting friendships, they will carry these over into their Jr. High and High School years. However, when kids are that young, they need their family’s help to make those connections. Encourage families of preschool and elementary to build friendships with church friends by attending church consistently, attending the same service consistently, inviting kids to hang out after church, connecting with families with kids the same age, and inviting a mixture of school kids and church kids to birthday parties. (Check out “Fostering Friendships: For Your Family” for more ideas to help families foster friendships)

2.)    Build in times to connect and make friends at every event.

  • Include age appropriate ice breakers and team builders as kids are growing up in your ministry.

3.)    Create an environment of inclusion

  • Encourage your core kids to reach out to new kids or those who are not entering in with the rest. A kid who is sitting off to the side is much more likely to jump in and participate if they are invited by a peer than if they are invited by a leader. In our preschool and elementary classrooms, each new child is assigned a “buddy” who sits by the visitor and shows them around and hangs out with them. This doesn’t really work with Jr. High and High School- but if they grew up in the classrooms where they were a “buddy” they will be more likely to have the instinct to reach out to visitors.

4.)    Make it easy to invite a friend!

  • Make postcards for kids to hand out as invitations to any special events.
  • Design some events specifically for those who don’t know Jesus yet (not every event—but some events).
  • Give motivation (bribes) for bringing friends.
  • Think through your communication and signage for a person to be able to attend who hasn’t ever been on your church campus before.

Please share your ideas on how you foster friendships in your church!!


About familydiscipleshippath

My husband, Tim, and I have been married for 17 years and have 3 great children. Our girls are 13 and 11 and the baby boy is 9. We have been living in Redding, CA and serving at Risen King Community Church since August, 2000. I serve as the Family Ministries Pastor. As a mom and a pastor, I represent both the church and the home and am on a journey of discovering and communicating practical ways the church and family can partner together to guide the young ones in our lives to know and love Jesus and live their lives(their whole lives) in light of that love.
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