“It’s easy to draw a crowd, anyone can do it”

Numerical Growth in Youth Ministry

For a very long time, I’ve struggled with the sense of Inadequacy. An unfortunate part of my background is that much of this sense of inadequacy has come from outside voices pointing out flaws that make me inadequate in their eyes to do what God has called me to do. I know I’m not alone in that truth.

But there are things from within that often times make me feel completely unqualified for what the Lord has me doing.

I consider myself fortunate to have never gotten involved with drugs of any sort, and I don’t view this is something that makes me unqualified. I say this, though, because at times, mainly when talking to one of the many students I work with who are heavy into drugs, I feel completely out of touch with what they are going through and dealing with. I have nothing to go off of.

Things like that bother me, and I know they shouldn’t.

But something that bothers me deeper is this notion that comes from the quote I used as the title of this post. It seems like this quote could probably be found in 90% of Youth Ministry books. It’s easy to grow a Youth Group numerically, just throw a party.

I wrestle, however, with the idea that even if I spend countless hours and an unhealthy amount of energy planning an amazing event to bring in a crowd, I still end up  with a crowd that leaves me scratching my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the biggest people that believes numbers don’t make a Youth Ministry, and I would much rather have 10 die-hard Christian Disciples than 100 students who can’t find Genesis in the Bible.

But I also believe those 10 die-hard Christian Disciples should be able to bring in 100 students who can’t find Genesis in the Bible.

In our ministry, we went through a lot the 12 months before I got here that we are still dealing with, and are really focusing this year on stability, and getting back to “Normal.” I’m beyond blessed to have a Sr. Pastor and Board of Elders invested in building a sustainable ministry over the longterm, but I also have this voice in my head that says “If your not growing numerically, are you really ‘Succeeding’?”

So how about you? Would you say you can have a “successful” ministry without numerical growth?

12 Comments

  1. I think it's a valid question. I think a big part of the puzzle is whether we program so that more kids get involved, or more kids get involved because of what God is doing in their friends. So often, the pressure is to get more kids. We can give out $10 bills at the door, and pack the house. Why are the numbers growing is crucial. Sometimes, Jesus drove away people because the crowds were too big, but I don't think we discuss the theology and praxis of that idea nearly as much as we do the issue of growth=health. I'd love to hear more about what you guys are thinking.
  2. I think it's a valid question. I think a big part of the puzzle is whether we program so that more kids get involved, or more kids get involved because of what God is doing in their friends. So often, the pressure is to get more kids. We can give out $10 bills at the door, and pack the house. Why are the numbers growing is crucial. Sometimes, Jesus drove away people because the crowds were too big, but I don't think we discuss the theology and praxis of that idea nearly as much as we do the issue of growth=health. I'd love to hear more about what you guys are thinking.
  3. I truly believe that success in the number of students we have. In fact I believe we cannot measure the success of our ministry until many years later. Some want to base success on different types of numbers like: the number of students on a Wednesday, or a Sundays number, some even say the number of baptisms in a year, others would say the number at an alter call, and a few ministers say that success is based on how many students you have that have accepted the call to full time ministry. I believe these are some great calculations to make and some even make great "plumb lines" for our ministry, but they are no the measurement of success. If success of ministry was measured by these numbers then where would we rate Jesus' ministry? He had 12 on a regular basis and one killed himself, does that mean Jesus had no success? Jesus had great events where many people came and left possibly to never see Him again, does that equal success? I along with many of you believe that Jesus had the most successful ministry out of anybody else's that ever was on the Earth, and He had no budget. The trick was Jesus would meet the physical need of people first then He would meet their spiritual need. We have all moved from this model and put our focus on other areas. It is my belief that success can only be measured many years later after our first contact with a student. It is our job to grow in a relationship with all the students that God puts before us but success is still not based on that. I believe that our success as student ministers can only be measured when we see adults that was once our students living a life that is covered in His light. How are they living as adults, as wives/husbands, as parents? By the way those questions are answered will be how we can measure the success of His ministry through us. Love your friend and brother in Christ.
  4. I truly believe that success in the number of students we have. In fact I believe we cannot measure the success of our ministry until many years later. Some want to base success on different types of numbers like: the number of students on a Wednesday, or a Sundays number, some even say the number of baptisms in a year, others would say the number at an alter call, and a few ministers say that success is based on how many students you have that have accepted the call to full time ministry. I believe these are some great calculations to make and some even make great "plumb lines" for our ministry, but they are no the measurement of success. If success of ministry was measured by these numbers then where would we rate Jesus' ministry? He had 12 on a regular basis and one killed himself, does that mean Jesus had no success? Jesus had great events where many people came and left possibly to never see Him again, does that equal success? I along with many of you believe that Jesus had the most successful ministry out of anybody else's that ever was on the Earth, and He had no budget. The trick was Jesus would meet the physical need of people first then He would meet their spiritual need. We have all moved from this model and put our focus on other areas. It is my belief that success can only be measured many years later after our first contact with a student. It is our job to grow in a relationship with all the students that God puts before us but success is still not based on that. I believe that our success as student ministers can only be measured when we see adults that was once our students living a life that is covered in His light. How are they living as adults, as wives/husbands, as parents? By the way those questions are answered will be how we can measure the success of His ministry through us. Love your friend and brother in Christ.
  5. [...] From Church News Source: http://2fe.966.myftpupload.com/2012/02/its-easy-to-draw-a-crowd-anyone-can-do-it/ ____________________________________________________ #family movie -THE LAMP- one family's loss shows them how to turn to Faith instead of magic #kidmin Article Continues Below Sponsor Information If you could have anything, what would YOU ask for? Can finding an old oil lamp, complete with a genie, REALLY make your life better? The characters in the movie “The Lamp” learn that there’s a lot more to life than what you THINK you need! Here’s what one viewer had to say about this movie- “The Lamp is an inspiring story about the power of the human spirit to create from within. Trost Moving Pictures does an amazing job of winding the story line through each character. An excellent and inspiring message for viewers of any age. Great message!!! Enjoy!!!”Lynne J Baecker Find out more and pick up a copy of this DVD for your family! CLICK HERENumerical Growth in Youth Ministry . For a very long time, I’ve struggled with the sense of Inadequacy. An unfortunate part of my background is that much of this sense of inadequacy has come from outside voices pointing out flaws that make [...]
  6. [...] From Church News Source: http://2fe.966.myftpupload.com/2012/02/its-easy-to-draw-a-crowd-anyone-can-do-it/ ____________________________________________________ #family movie -THE LAMP- one family's loss shows them how to turn to Faith instead of magic #kidmin Article Continues Below Sponsor Information If you could have anything, what would YOU ask for? Can finding an old oil lamp, complete with a genie, REALLY make your life better? The characters in the movie “The Lamp” learn that there’s a lot more to life than what you THINK you need! Here’s what one viewer had to say about this movie- “The Lamp is an inspiring story about the power of the human spirit to create from within. Trost Moving Pictures does an amazing job of winding the story line through each character. An excellent and inspiring message for viewers of any age. Great message!!! Enjoy!!!”Lynne J Baecker Find out more and pick up a copy of this DVD for your family! CLICK HERENumerical Growth in Youth Ministry . For a very long time, I’ve struggled with the sense of Inadequacy. An unfortunate part of my background is that much of this sense of inadequacy has come from outside voices pointing out flaws that make [...]
  7. I love the idea of finding what gives your youth ministry momentum and building off of that. Maybe part of the ministry should not be led by you and having a team of student leaders around to take on some of that responsibility would make things better number wise.
  8. I love the idea of finding what gives your youth ministry momentum and building off of that. Maybe part of the ministry should not be led by you and having a team of student leaders around to take on some of that responsibility would make things better number wise.

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