It is in my nature to want to make student feel welcome. I want to invite them in. This last year there has been a few students who joined my small group, which is amazing. These students were invited by friends, they were coming consistently they were engaging in conversation, they were “in”… then one day he was gone. The student disappeared. Just stopped coming. Gone. Not really, cause I still saw him via social media and such, but just not coming to group anymore. The others in the group still invited him to come, I pursued him. Nothing.
What do we do? What happens when students just stop showing up?
- Let them know they are missed. Obviously something, whether inside them or inside the group, happened. I just to let them know they are loved and missed no matter what. Letting them know by either on Facebook or text or call, even when they do not respond back they will know they are not just going to disappear without a trace. I want them to know they are missed.
- Pray for them. Might seem obvious but I think it’s huge. Something going on, and sometime the only thing you can do is pray for them. Pray for their heart to be opened to what you saw them leaning towards when they were around.
- Sick the students from their school on them. I tell the guys in my group just to love on him at school. Not to over bearing, but even though he is not coming to the group anymore that doesn’t mean he is going to be ignored at school by the guys. They will talk to him at lunch, hang at school and always invite him to come back to group to hang out. They will feel the love from the group even if they stopped coming to the group.
- When and if they come back, welcome them like the prodigal son returning and make it known they were missed and that they are loved. Make it seem like they never have missed a beat.
Sometimes students just stop coming. There is nothing we can do. Only God can work on their heart and move them. Our job as their pastor is to be there with open arms if and when they come back to group. I have seen it in my own ministry, sometimes student come back. Sometimes they do not. Sometimes they come back a bit later, after high school. And sometimes, those conversations are some of the best because they realize you were always there for them.