Jeanne Mayo wrote Thriving Youth Groups to record her process for establishing a friendship culture in the various Youth Ministries she has run in her career. She believes that building a culture of friendship is the key to growing a youth ministry. Students will not come back to the Youth Group if they are not accepted and validated by their peers. They need friends; not programs.
Youth Pastors can begin to grow a friendship culture by hearing from their students. They need honest feedback from the students in the ministry so that they can begin to implement real change. Next, the pastor needs to focus on “influential” students and win them over to the vision of a friendship culture. Once key students begin to own the vision of friendship for themselves, things will begin to change.
Youth Pastors can move things along once the key students are in place by working to establish systems, process, and procedures for follow up and friendship. Follow up is important to retain students.