how to measure success in youth ministry

How to Measure Success in Youth Ministry

By Austin McCann November 26, 2018

Youth pastors, as well as the churches they serve in, want their youth ministry to be successful. But how do we measure youth ministry success?

Most of the time, youth ministry feels like a “one step forward, two steps back” type of thing.

Great fall retreat? Three emails from upset parents.

Finally feeling confident in your program calendar? Your most dependable student leader’s family breaks the news that they’re leaving town and your church.

“We should regularly take stock of the health our ministries. The process may not be easy, but the hope is that we gain confidence in areas that are going well and gain wisdom to make appropriate adjustments.”

So how do we measure success? Should we even try? Yes, absolutely. We should regularly take stock of the health our ministries. The process may not be easy, but the hope is that we gain confidence in areas that are going well and gain wisdom to make appropriate adjustments.

Here are some factors to consider when you’re ready to evaluate your ministry:


Let’s get this out of the way. The moment someone says, “numbers,” people in ministry get uncomfortable. Regardless, I believe it’s an important measure of success in student ministry. Before you label me as being “all about the numbers,” hear me out. Healthy things grow. Healthy youth ministries tend to grow. Now, the speed of that growth will vary; your ministry could blow up overnight or it could steadily add one new family a year. Either way, if we’re leading attractive, relevant, and Gospel-centered youth ministries, I believe students will come.

Here’s one question you can ask to see if your ministry is truly growing: How many students are weekly, regular attenders and is that number growing over time?


Getting students to walk through your doors is a good first step, but introducing them to a personal relationship with Jesus is much better. Youth pastors are called to teach the Gospel. The Gospel should be heard in our large groups, small groups, parent conversations, mentoring moments, and outreach events. There’s no successful youth ministry without it! If the Gospel is being faithfully taught, students will come to faith. It may not happen all at once (just like a growth in numbers), but a successful youth ministry will see students come to faith in Christ.

Ask this question of yourself and your church: Are students coming to faith in Christ and are we presenting the Gospel on a regular basis?


Youth pastors should work hard to plug students into serving roles. It doesn’t matter if these serving roles happen at youth group or outside of it; students just need to be moved along to the next step. After coming to youth group, discovering a relationship with God, and growing in that relationship, students should take the next step of serving. This is a critical measure of success. When students move past simply attending youth group, they grow from being consumers towards being investors.

Ask yourself: How many students do we currently have in serving roles? Are we making it easy for them to step into these roles?

Following Jesus after high school

One of the clearest ways to measure success in youth ministry is to follow the progress of former students. If they truly came to faith and grew in Christ during their youth group years, there will be some fruit in their life as college and young adults. Many times, students walk away from Jesus and the church after high school because they never truly had a relationship with God in the first place. Youth pastors who are doing the hard work of disciple making will see students stay with Jesus throughout their college and young adult years.

A practical question youth pastors and churches can ask is this: How many of our former students are still walking with Jesus?

Youth ministry is hard. We will all have days when we feel unsuccessful, days when we feel like terrible youth pastors. But here’s the good news: Jesus doesn’t view our ministry this way. He has given us his power through the Spirit to complete the work he has called us to do. He is the one that grows our ministries. If we pay attention with these practical evaluation tools, we’ll be able to see that fruit for ourselves.

Looking for more evaluation tools? Click here.

youth ministry evaluation

About the Author

Austin McCann

Austin McCann is an associate pastor at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. Austin has a passion to see things done well within local churches and enjoys creating and maintaining effective programs and systems within the context of the local church. He loves everything basketball (die hard Cleveland Cavaliers and Duke Blue Devils fan), reading, spending time with…  Read More