March 3, 2012

Connection algorithm for helping girls belong

 


Wouldn’t it be great if there was a Connection Algorithm like Sheldon’s that would help you connect a girl to the student ministry or a girls lifegroup?
I remember the first day on the job as a girlsminister. Such an algorithm would have been very handy. It was our fall retreat! I was surrounded by cliques of girls and I couldn’t figure out how to get inside of one of those circles. They all seemed to be looking at me—the new girl—and sizing me up. Didn’t they realize I was an adult and the girls minister?! I think I thought there would be instant connection like there was when I worked summers at the large Christian camps. Just because I was camp staffer, I often had students come up and start talking with me about some pretty heavy things.  But, this was not how it was on my first day on the job.  There were some sweet people that tried to come over and introduce themselves but mostly it was cliques. My go to entry line was, “Hey do you guys know where I could get a soda?” and then when the conversation tanked, I’d say, “wow better go look for that soda.” Then on Sundays and Wednesdays there was the hallway that I renamed “The Gauntlet”. It was a horrible hallway because you had to walk down it to get into the sunday school room and lining every square inch of wallspace were groups of girls that weren’t talking to me but to each other. Very intimidating! I’m very thankful for the gauntlet and for that first fall retreat because it reminds me of what it feels like to be new in our student ministry.  It’s scary!
That’s why I worked with some leaders and girls over the years to have a algorithm of sorts or a strategy to receive new girls into our student ministry.  The idea is the 1-2-3 CLICK! method.  Now understand that we don’t just go around saying “hey new girl…this is how we’re going to get you connected in three clicks.” This is just something that I have used to explain to students or leaders to help them understand how to continue reaching out to new people that have been introduced to our student ministry.

Here’s the basic premise:
1. Meet  a girl who is unconnected and introduce her to her peer group.
2. Take her to coffee or introduce her to a peer or leader which will take her to coffee to get to know her.
3. Get her connected to a lifegroup of girls who have hung out with her or introduce her to a relationship building catalyst like our Snowball Girls Retreat.  AND CLICK! She’s in.

I have observed that typically after 3 intentional relationship connections from you the leader—to a healthy peer group—and then to a bonding event or small group with that healthy peer group, the student will click into a place they feel welcomed and known within your student ministry.

As we have grown through the years, it has become imperative to utilize volunteers like our Chris and Debbie who are not only lifegroup leaders on Wednesdays, but also are moms that have journeyed through our student ministry alongside their students. They are the faces on Sunday AM when we have girls walk up to the check-in table to get connected.  On Wednesdays we use our amazing ministry assistants Carol and Julia to connect girls to lifegroups and introduce them to a peer that will “show them the way” for the evening.
In addition to that, we have begun having a SOUP N’ STUDY  at my home on Tuesday evenings. Surprisingly many girls that would not walk into the big student group have shown up at my home to meet girls in a smaller context. That may be something you could add to your connection plan as well.
How do you get girls connected and help them feel safe, loved and known in your student ministry?



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