Is It All About the Numbers?
By: Clint Followell
Do you ever have those weeks you walk away from your youth group absolutely floored? The room was full, the games rocked, and the message nailed it! Afterwards you couldn’t wait for next week!
But when next week comes you only have half your students, the computer hates you, and the youth band isn’t prepared…You go from what felt like the best week ever to the worst week.
While many factors influence our emotional feelings from one week to another few affect us as much as youth attendance.
So how do we get youth to show up? How do we get them to be engaged? It’s not all about the numbers, but we definitely want to keep tabs on the ebbs and flows of our ministry.
While there is no secret formula for success, there are some guiding values that can really help any youth ministry.
“While many factors influence our emotional feelings from one week to another few affect us as much as youth attendance.”
The first step is to listen. Give students a voice and allow them to speak into the ministry. We need to know what they like, what they don’t like, and things they want to try. Sometimes on Wednesday nights we circle up and I give my students space to ask questions, speak out about things, and to share their thoughts with the other youth around them. Another way to do this is through questions and polls on social media. Possibly the most effective way to listen is the old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation! When we listen intently, the students realize they are important and valued in our eyes.
Once we hear from our youth, now it is time to plan. We will then need to come up with events, programs, and ideas that will fulfill the students’ needs. For every event or program we put on it is important to ask three major questions:
1.) Who is our target audience? Are we focused on current youth, new students, high school, middle school, guys, or girls?
2.) What is the event? What logistics need to be planned? What supplies are needed? What’s the overall cost?
3.) Why are we doing this? Do we hope to reach new students, disciple current students, or just provide a fun time for students?
With no plan we have no aim. Planning is vital so we can make sure we are actually heading in the direction God wants our youth to be heading.
Equip & Empower
Students will reach students better than we ever will, and that’s okay! If we want our current students showing up on a regular basis, we need to give them buy-in to the ministry. Equipping them to lead and serve in various ways gives them that buy-in. They will want to bring their friends because they now have ownership in the ministry. And once they start bringing friends, that ownership only increases.
Go give your students a voice, plan for the students to show up, and then give them ways to plug in when they do show up. It is a constant, ongoing labor of love that all too often becomes neglected in our ministries! Don’t let it be that way in your ministry! Go text, tweet, DM, or hangout with some kids and tell them how important they are!
Clint Followell serves as the Minister of Students at First Baptist Church in San Marcos, TX. He and his wife Monica have three children and live in San Marcos.
About the Author
The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry […]