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By Paul Proctor

July 13, 2007

Christian Post reporter, Nathan Black began his latest article titled, "How to Get Youth to Show Up at Church Outreaches" with this little nugget:

Youth leaders generally anticipate high attendance at planned events, but oftentimes only 20 to 50 percent of the expected number show up, according to long-time youth leader Jonathan McKee.

"I find that the majority of us sometimes have high expectations and maybe even try to spiritualize it, [saying] 'We have this God-sized goal,'" McKee, author of the new book Getting Students to Show Up, pointed out in an interview with Youth Specialties.

McKee says the biggest mistake when it comes to trying to get students to show up to events is "the draw." A lot of times, youth leaders just don't provide any "draw" or forget about it completely.

"We think 'if we build it, they'll come,'" noted McKee, who heads The Source for Youth Ministry, which equips youth workers with free resources.

Instead of calling it "the draw," why doesn't Mr. Mckee call it what it really is - the bribe - the sacred modus operandi of today's church - and point blank ask, "How can we bribe them?"

He follows with the usual pragmatic reasoning that almost always accompanies such godless manipulation:

"Why on earth would a student want to come here (church) on Friday night?" the former Youth for Christ staff posed as a question youth leaders should answer when planning outreaches or spiritual growth events. "Why is a kid going to want to leave MySpace and cable or his girlfriend to come out to our outreach program on Wednesday night?"

And so, what does Mckee suggest youth leaders do to lure them in?

Some of the simple draw concepts McKee suggested was free pizza or sporting events youth like.

Pizza? Surely we can do better than that! Here's a better idea; Why not offer attendees a chance to win an iPod, iPhone or some other latest greatest gadget like, say, a brand new Wii console? That's what they're doing online now. Or, better yet - why not pay the prettiest girls or handsomest boys from your congregation to personally invite, flirt with or even date those hard-to-reach youth? If it gets the job done, what's wrong with that?

Mckee goes on to explain why tactics like mere self-promotion don't work anymore:

McKee had been invited to speak at a youth rally on the East Coast. As he drove into town, he saw a large sign that read "Youth Rally. Speaker: Jonathan McKee."

But for many, the names of youth workers including McKee typically do not ring a bell among youth or others.

"If I'm not Justin Timberlake or Diddy, I'm not a draw," said McKee.

See, you youth leaders out there just need to savvy up, combine your efforts and raise more mega-church money so you can afford to pay the hottest singers and celebrities to appear and/or perform at your Christian events. Obviously, you've been thinking way too small, oh ye of little faith.

But hey - if you don't mind throwing money around for Jesus - and booking big stars is out of your budget - why not just do what I suggested in an earlier article from 2003 titled, "Brotherly Bribes" and offer those kids cash to show up?

Trust me - if that doesn't work, nothing will.

$20 ought to do it.

"And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." - 2nd Peter 2:2-4