So, what’s the big deal? Let’s imagine you are lost in a desert, haven’t eaten for days, and are becoming very weak. You know if something doesn’t happen you could starve to death! But all of a sudden, a huge buffet table appears with all of your favorite foods! What a relief – that was a life-changing moment! That’s what a conference or retreat is like – giving you “food for the soul” that changes your life! You may remember a time when you went to a conference or retreat where you made life-changing decisions. Wouldn’t it be awesome to let others know about the opportunity to go?
Here are the steps to help get your friends to a conference:
- Make a list.
List every possible student you and your group plan to invite, whether they are involved with you or not. Pray regularly for the students on your list.
- Get the word out.
Encourage students to attend a conference by telling them how fun it is, and by showing them how it could meet specific needs in their spiritual life. Help them overcome barriers, real or imaginary.
As a spiritual leader at your school, it is important that you know how a conference fits into your purpose and goals. Be sure you know the theme, emphasis and content. Start early, asking others to come and bring their friends. First, get others to think about going. This is a good time to start passing out flyers to your school and church, and to any other groups might be involved in.
- Just Do It! Give the challenge.
Use positive peer pressure! Tell them about all the cool people going (especially you!), emphasizing the fun and new friendships. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Everybody’s challenge is nobody’s challenge”? Talk to your friends personally. Explain how this upcoming conference can help them grow spiritually. Be specific if you know some areas they want to grow in.
- Get feedback.
Would they like to attend? Do they have any questions? Show them how to register and sign them up right then. If there are barriers to overcome before they sign up, help them work through them.
- Leap over the hurdles.
Help them think through what the next steps will be in getting to the conference. Sometimes barriers come up that can keep someone from going. Emphasize that if God wants them at the conference, no obstacle is too great. Show them how even big obstacles can be used as faith-building experiences. Take him to places in God’s Word where He promises to provide for us (Philippians 4:19).
Some possible hurdles
- Apathy – No one seems to be interested in the conference Here are a few check points:
- Have you been praying and asking the Lord to motivate your friends?
- Review the purpose for the conference. Do you know why you are having the conference? And are you able to communicate that to your friends?
- Find other student leaders to help you generate vision and enthusiasm for the conference.
- Have you been telling all of the groups with which you and your friends have contact? Are you asking specific people to attend?
- Schedule conflicts
Beginning promotion early allows your friends to plan the event into their schedules, but even then you’ll have a conflict with some schedules. However, this can be a great opportunity for Christian growth. It makes them choose priorities. Your role is to help them think through this decision in light of their commitment to growth in Christ. Be sure to direct them to the Scriptures and prayer as you encourage them to make the final decision.
- Parental Opposition
Have other parents who are familiar with the conference call the parents. If a parent is still opposed to it, it is your responsibility as a spiritual leader to encourage the student to obey his parents and maintain a good attitude in doing so (Ephesians 6:1-3). God will use this as a witness to them.
- Lack of Funds
A common obstacle is money. Schedule some fundraisers. Several ideas are: car washes, bowl-a-thons, asking missions boards of churches, garage sales, garbage pick-up, etc. Be ready to give fund-raising options to everyone, especially those with serious needs. You may be able to find some business people or churches to will give scholarships for students to attend.
Answer the following questions.
- What are the benefits of going to a conference?
- Why do I think we should go? (So you can tell them why they should go)
- Who do I want to go?
- What are the plans for transportation?
- What is the total cost?
- What money-raising activities are planned?
- How many students should go?
- What groups, teams, and clubs need to be represented?
- Who is going to ask them to go?
- Make a list of those you want to invite.
- List reasons to attend.
- Give out promotional material (brochure, video or flier).
- Invite them personally and give them all the details.
- Make sure their parents give the “okay” for them to go.
- Work through any barriers they have to going.
- Sign them up and send in the pre-registration form.