Probably most of us in student ministry are serving in what we would consider a smaller youth group. I read recently an article that stated the average youth group is 60 students and 12 volunteers and 1.25 full time staff. I would venture a guess and say that most youth groups are between 25 to 50 students. I know we all want our student ministries to grow because that means students are coming to know Christ. Or does it? Some student ministries grow because they are the happening “spiritual” thing in that community and so Christian students from other churches are attracted to them. Makes sense. Students want to hang and worship with more Christians their age.
Do we evaluate growth and success strictly by the numbers? More and more lately I have been feeling that success is measured by this equation: # of graduates – # who walk away from their faith = “?”.
If more students are sticking with their faith as they enter and navigate through college years I would say there is success in that student ministry. Should we evaluate success by the number of students in our youth group or the number of students from our youth groups who actually stick with their faith upon graduation?
Perhaps success equation should look like this: # of students + # of adults discipling them = success
I believe that if we connect students from within our student ministry who have a desire to grow spiritually with caring adults from within our student ministry and church we will create a discipleship/mentor relationship that will produce more fully devoted followers of Christ than just holding big events with lots of pizza. I think it will produce more fully devoted followers of Christ than our weekly youth group gathering produces. I also believe that fully devoted followers of Christ share their faith with others. So the result would be some growth in our youth group.
Students don’t need another Bible study. They are getting teaching on Sunday morning and at their weekly youth group gathering. That’s enough Bible to keep them busy applying and growing and learning. What they need is a caring adult who will ask them the important questions and then help them grow accordingly. Can there be a balance between big events, youth group gathering, focused discipleship? Which will produce more fully devoted followers of Christ?
What is your strategy to disciple students?