Youth Ministry is not the same as Youth Group

Almost 6 months ago, I got to inherit a great group of students by taking a new role. Our Youth Group has plenty of students that come every week, is filled with students passionate about growing in their relationship with God, and contains a large portion of students whose parents don’t go to church, meaning there is plenty of potential.

But this group of students is just one of a few groups of High School students in our church. Odds are, we aren’t the only ministry with this challenge.

A few years ago, I remember feeling like I had this genius revelation to stop worrying about how many students showed up to youth group, but to worry about the students with a basic connection to your ministry that didn’t go to any church. It’s something I still hold true to being a great performance measure.

But deeper than that, I want to know the number of students that are in our church and aren’t part of our “Youth Group.” It can be far too easy to slide into the mindset that a Youth Pastor just oversees Youth Group, but true ministry to Youth, the role of a Pastor of Students, has to have a much larger scope.

In a previous house, we had a neighbor that I was able to develop a fairly good connection with who loved going to church, was faithful every week, but his two daughters who didn’t live with him never did. I’ll always remember him, though we are no longer neighbors, simply because of a revelation I had during a conversation with him about Family Ministry that if I was serious about partnering with parents in raising up disciples, he would have to constantly be a benchmark. If I made it my goal to help Him, and other parents in similar situations, disciple their teens, how many other parents would benefit from the process of getting there. But if I held my goal at the family that is at every service, reads the weekly emails, is extremely involved, and that’s as far as I go, how many am I missing?

What I think every Youth Pastor would agree with is that our role isn’t just about the students that belong to our group. But I think our natural thought is to go towards the students in the schools with our group, the lost.

We need to keep focused that we are not just the Pastor of the students in our church who choose to attend our group. Maybe your ministry is blessed to have every student of age already attending. For us, we’ve got about a third of the High Schoolers that walk through our doors on Sunday who come again for Youth Group on Wednesday, and about another third who come to our Awana program, and more students than I’d like who aren’t involved with either.

But Youth Ministry has to be about more than just Youth Group.


Do you know the percentages of students in your church who attend Youth Group?

How do our discipleship efforts shift by thinking beyond just those in our groups?



  1. It's nice to recognize the distinction, the article seems a bit incomplete though -follow up on how to bridge the gap would be nice. More personal invites? Have current youth reach out? Though it may not be something we are doing wrong, there are likely things we could do better -or different!

Leave a Reply

Main Menu