NEW STRATEGIES TO CONNECT WITH STUDENTS
The “Before School” Rush
What student wouldn’t love stepping off the bus early in the morning to be greeted by a smiling Jesus Club adult volunteer holding a box of free donuts? If administration has denied you permission to pass out donuts during lunch, here’s a variation you can ask them about:
In many school districts, students have about 15-20 minutes of “nothing-to-do time” after they get dropped off by the bus and are waiting for classes to begin.
- This can be a great time to connect with students, and hand out donuts in the cafeteria, in the hallways, at the doors closest to the bus drop-off, or wherever you are granted permission.
- Be sure to show up prepared before the buses arrive, as many students may be getting dropped off by parents early too.
- Invite your student leaders to show up and help as well. You could even have an early morning prayer time together before handing out donuts.
- This same “before school” strategy can also be implemented right after school if needed.
- Drop off a box or two of donuts in the school office for the staff so that you can make some friends there too.
The Donut Table
Some principals may deny your request as an adult volunteer to have free reign of the cafeteria, wandering around and connecting with students. In such a case, asking permission for a stationary location to pop up a Jesus Club table with you and your student leaders could be a great compromise that the administration is willing to accept. Here’s how it can work:
- Make sure your student leaders are with you, so that the connect day is “student-led.”
- Pick a heavy traffic location in the cafeteria, and set up an attractive looking Jesus Club table there so you can have high visibility, but aren’t too much in the way.
- A plastic folding table with a tablecloth, some Jesus Club flyers, a pop-up banner, etc. should do the trick. The idea is that you want students to notice the table and for it to stand out from the other cafeteria tables where students are eating. Your student leaders can even call out loud, “Free donuts!” That’s pretty sure to draw a crowd, and now from the Jesus Club table alongside your student leaders you can meet students, love on them, tell them about club, and build relationships.
The Student-Only Connect Day
So you’ve found our for sure that no adult volunteers are allowed on campus for Connect Days. Well, the show must go on, so it’s up to your student leaders to make it happen now, but you can still help them in a few key ways.
- Have a meeting with your student leaders to empower them, cast vision, get them excited, and give them practical instructions for the Connect Days.
- On the Connect Day, buy the donuts and drop them off at the school office for your student leaders to come pick up before lunch. (They might need to get a pass to leave a little early before the bell rings so they can get set up.)
- Also drop off any flyers, signs, banners, etc. that your student leaders will find helpful as they run the Connect Day without you.
- You can wait outside the school and pray until lunch ends, then go and pick up the banners, table, and anything else you left with the students. Or you can arrange for the students or the teacher advisor to collect the items and store them in their classroom.
- Contact the students later to see how it went, encourage them, and help them address any obstacles they came across during the Connect Day.
The Candy Bowl
Sometimes, it may happen where neither you or the student leaders are able to run the Connect Day on the day before Jesus Club, but you still want all the students of the school to know you haven’t forgotten about them or about club. In such a case, you can ask permission for the students (or yourself) to set up a Jesus Club table with some candy at it. Here’s how it can work:
- This is not an ideal Connect Day scenario, but is a last resort if needed.
- Get permission to set up a Jesus Club table in the cafeteria with a bowl full of individually wrapped bite-size candy in it.
- A student, a teacher, or a volunteer can set it up any time before lunch begins if you
- aren’t available. Just be sure to get them the supplies.
- You can put on the table a sign communicating whatever you want to tell students (i.e. “Jesus Club is tomorrow! Come join us in the gym!”, or “Club is cancelled this week, we love you and will see you next week!” etc.)
- If your teacher advisor or a student is available, have them monitor and re-fill the candy bowl during lunch, or throughout the multiple lunch periods (if applicable to your school).
The Pass Push or Sign-Up Day
It’s important to ask at every school, “how do students come to a club?” For many campuses, this is as easy as students just voluntarily walking down the hall during lunch to the auditorium, nothing more ( if that’s your school, disregard this section) . But in some circumstances, a physical sign-up sheet, an online registration, or acquiring a written pass from the teacher sponsor is required in advance before attending the Jesus Club. Be sure to find out what’s needed at your school, and it could be that Connect Days are your moment to help as many students as possible do what’s needed to come to the club. ( We have a whole Pro-Tip Video on this one, so be sure to check that out after you read this ). Here’s how it can work:
- Get permission to set up a Jesus Club table in the cafeteria, with banners, signs, and of course– donuts.
- See the section above titled “The Donut Table” for more ideas on setting up your table.
- If written passes are required to come to club, ask if you can have hundreds of
- pre-made passes printed out (signed by the teacher if necessary) sitting there at the table that you and the student leaders distribute. Tell them to hold on to the pass, because they need it to come to club the next day. Include the day, time, location, and other pertinent information on the pass, so that students don’t forget those details.
- If an online sign-up is required , you will want to ask if the teacher is allowed to facilitate the online sign-up, meaning the teacher can log into the school portal and assign students to the club, instead of students having to log into the portal and sign themselves up. If the teacher can do this, then during the Connect Day have a few clip boards on the table where students can write down their name to sign up for club. Later, the teacher can take those clip boards full of sign-ups and register them all for the club. Just be sure you do this sign-up process with plenty of days for your teacher to assign on all the names, as often the day before can be a little too rushed.
- If an online sign-up is required by only the students themselves , you will want to lay out the steps very clearly for students there at your table. You can hand out flyers or cards with the detailed sign-up instructions on them. Or, (if allowed) you could have a few iPads on the table where students can sign up. You can have a QR Code set up for it if possible, or even ask students right there to pull their phones and sign themselves up. The goal is to make it as easy and quick as possible to sign up so they don’t forget.
- Ask the school if you can implement a “One-Time Sign-up.” The benefit here to a one-time sign-up is that once a student signs up they are now assigned to that club every time the club gathers. This means they don’t need to come to the donut table every week to sign-up, or to event remember when club happens necessarily, because now their online student portal will designate in their schedule that they are required to go to the room where club is scheduled.
- Reinforce communication about the sign-up process on social media, intercom announcements, posters around the school, and any other outlets you can utilize.
Budget Friendly Tips
Running out of cash to keep connect days afloat with fresh donuts? Here are some strategies you can implement to save some dough on the donuts:
- Donut Holes. Many donut shops offer holes, or are willing to make them upon request. You can save a lot of money by handing donut holes instead of full-size donuts, but they’re delicious and still make students feel special when you give them one.
- Donations from a Bakery. Many bakeries will only sell products that were baked fresh that same day, and at the end of each day they throw lots of perfectly good, delicious treats right into the garbage. Often times these bakeries would happily donate their products instead of trashing them. Contact the manager of the bakery or donut shop, and ask them if they’d consider donating those left-over donuts to your Jesus Club.
- Students Splitting Donuts. For this, when connecting with a student, you simply ask them to go grab one of their friends to come split the donut with them. Now you’ve gotten two students per one donut, plus an opportunity to meet one more person that didn’t voluntarily come up to you at first.
- Cutting Donuts. It’s pretty simple, but you can cut up the donuts into two or three sections for students to grab. Just make sure you wear food safety gloves while cutting, and get the donuts all cut up before you come. Do NOT bring a knife to the school!
- Substituting with Cheaper Treats. You could potentially save some money by passing out bite-size candies or other little goodies that cost less money. Just make sure that candy wrappers don’t get left all over the floor and hallways. Send your team to go around after lunch and clean up.