Youth Ministry Isn’t Winning – Part 1

Chances are

your youth ministry isn’t as great as you think. No, I’m not saying it’s not good, I’m saying your still going to deal with the same stuff everyone else deals with. Even if you have a big group and they all actually love Jesus. You probably aren’t winning. What? Joshua, why are you hating the youth pastors. Glad you asked.

I’m a youth pastor.

3 years ago, our church didn’t have a youth ministry. My wife and I were asked to start one. So we did. It grew too. Our church is a bit smaller, yet we ended up having 3 small groups and 40 kids at the biggest event we did. That’s actually pretty good comparatively. It’s also a problem for me. Why? Context, it’s all context.

Let’s talk numbers.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m thinking more like a missionary than a pastor. Here’s the thing with that, our city has around 20,000 people. Half of that is under the age of 18. 10,000. So I’m guessing here, but probably 5,000 are in Junior High and High School. This is just my city, it’s not including the city 5 miles away that has another huge highschool, or all the smaller towns surrounding us. In reality, for this area there’s probably more like 15,000 in those two cities. Beyond that, I have a really gracious guess that maybe 1500 of those students are in church somewhere on a Sunday, and that doesn’t actually tell me how many know Jesus. Add into this the stats from Barna Group where the chances of someone accepting Christ after 18 drops to somewhere in the neighborhood of 7%. That’s a lot of people going to hell at the end of the day.

No, I’m not excited

by a “big group” or a “big church”. Most big churches aren’t that big. I love what Craig Groeschel thinks about this. One of LifeChurch’s core values is “We wholeheartedly reject the label mega-church. We are a micro-church with a mega-vision.” The first time I heard him say this, he was speaking about the context of Oklahoma City and the reality that they don’t have 1% of the city. That’s what I think about most of ministry. If you don’t have 1%, you haven’t impacted your city. If you have 1%, you haven’t impacted your city.

A Big Group vs. a Discipleship Movement.

Don’t get me wrong. 40 is a big group for a youth ministry in a church and town our size. When I see the need, it’s really not great. We aren’t winning…yet. So I jack hammered the entire thing. I shutdown most of our groups and changed strategy. We told the students in those groups to start their own. Why? Because if we can see a discipleship movement of students, then it will go farther than we could carry it by starting groups ourselves. I’ll talk more about this next week. In the meantime, I’d also encourage you to look at your group, then look at the numbers. Ask yourself, are you winning or do you need to change what you’re doing?