It is probably safe to assume that you would like to see your youth ministry grow. No matter who you are, I believe these 3 ways to grow your youth ministry will help.
If you are new to youth ministry, you may not know where to begin. Do you buy the massive unicorn float at the pool store, act crazy, and give away iPads to get students to attend? While these ideas could serve a substantial purpose, I believe there are better places for you to focus.
For ministry veterans, the need looks different. You hit your top number every fall or every spring. You know why you got to that number – a sermon series that draws students in or a season of momentum driven by events or activities. So how do you stay or even pass your top attendance number?
While not an exhaustive list, here are three ways you may go about growing your ministry in 2020.
3 Ways To Grow Your Youth Ministry In 2020
Accurate And Complete Attendance.
The first of 3 ways to grow your youth ministry in 2020 is with accurate and complete attendance.
At first glance, this may seem like a simple concept. I bet you do this, right? You take perfect attendance all of the time.
It amazes me the number of leaders who fail to take accurate attendance. To those of us in youth ministry, we often see taking attendance as a negative or uncomfortable administrative task.
Often we believe taking attendance is only about giving numbers to those in charge or worse; we see attendance numbers as threatening to our value as a youth pastor.
When you take count of the people who are at all of your activities, you develop a complete record of where you currently stand as a ministry.
Accurate numbers help you see the areas of your program that are trending upwards, the areas of your ministry that you may need to remove, and the seasons of ministry that provide you with the best opportunities for new ideas.
Numbers are also about something else. Numbers are about people.
When you take attendance, you quickly see when someone has stopped attending. You can love people and care for them better when you notice they have not been to your ministry in a few weeks.
By following up with a person who has not attended, you may learn of a new activity they are involved in, health issues in their family, or drama they’ve experienced. Regardless of why they have stopped attending, you will be in a place to gain knowledge and will be able to asses how best to care for them as a person.
Accurate attendance records open the door to explore new ideas, eliminate failing programs, and, most importantly, to care in meaningful ways for the people in your ministry.
Consider Your Ratio.
Look at the size and depth of your adult leaders. What is your ratio of adults to students?
If you have too many students and not enough leaders, students will not feel known by an adult. Students who do not feel known in your ministry will leave or never connect in the first place.
Teens need your adult leaders to know their joys, pains, fears, and dreams.
If you structure your adult to student ratio low enough for your students to be fully known, then you will grow. At the Youth Ministry Institute, we recommend nothing more than a 1 to 5 ratio of adults to students.
If you currently have enough adults for the students that you have, then you need to add one or two adults. Ministries that grow are ministries that prepare for growth. Do you currently have five adults, then recruit two more. (See my article on 5 Types Of Leaders You Need On Your Team.)
Your adult leaders can make a significant impact on your growth in 2020. Recruit adults so that students can be known and loved this year!
Increase Student Pride.
People want to participate in things that excite them. I wonder how excited your students are about the youth ministry? Do they feel pride in their group, in their adults, in themselves, in Jesus?
If your students feel pride in anything about your ministry, they will share this with others, and it will influence how they act in the world. A student’s felt pride for your group will often translate into excitement, and excitement can be the doorway to connection.
Your ministry is worthy of feeling pride. You have a message of hope, joy, peace, and Jesus! What are you doing to help foster excitement and pride in the ministry that you lead?
Celebrate students who represent the group. Take pictures of your students wearing your ministry shirt at their school events and post them on your social media. Ask students to share stories with the entire group of how they lived out the teachings or values of your group. If they are nervous about telling the story to their peers, ask them if you can share their story with the group.
Talk and teach about how amazing your group is and what Jesus is doing in your group. Always tell people in your church about the positives outcomes of the youth ministry.
Often the pride students need in their group is modeled first by you, the leader. If you model pride in the group for your adult leaders and students, eventually, they will grab hold of this, and good things will begin to happen.
I believe that you can grow your ministry in 2020. Taking these three steps can help put you and your ministry on a positive trajectory towards that growth.
Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.