This post is the third post in a series dealing with numbers in your Youth Ministry. So far we have looked at who is really behind seeing numbers as success and why numbers in your youth ministry matter. If you are going to be in any ministry, you are going to have to deal with numbers. Having a healthy and balanced understanding of what do to with them will keep you from discouragement and giving up. While numbers do matter to an extent, we must be careful not to make too much of them. So, here are five reasons your Youth Ministry numbers do not matter:
Numbers do not give a true measurement of influence
On the surface, you would think that more students equals more influence. This certainly would be true if you could remove the aspect of relationships from Youth Ministry. Since the greatest influence you can make in your students is through the time you invest in building relationships, the number of students you have cannot be a true measurement of influence.
Bigger is not always better
If we are talking about our ego, then yes bigger is better. If we are talking about effective ministry on the other hand, it is not the case. Yes, you can be very effective and be a large Youth Ministry. With a larger ministry though comes more moving pieces. You have more pressures to meet and manage. You will have more budget to manage as well. You will have more leaders to recruit and equip. These things can be a real blessing and a real challenge. Many times smaller is better.
There is always someone bigger and someone smaller
The danger in the great comparison game we tend to play is that we always lose. We look around and see other ministries and then silently compare ours to theirs. We do this almost exclusively based on the number of students in their ministry. It goes without saying this is a shallow comparison. Without a real working knowledge of the struggles, battles, and challenges they are dealing with we assume everything is great. Being fully aware of our own struggles we begin to make unfair assumptions. The reality is, regardless of the size of your ministry, there will always be someone bigger and someone smaller than your Youth Ministry. You must be intentional to be faithful where you have been planted.
The size of your Youth Ministry is dependent on the size of your church
A large Youth Ministry in a small church is unhealthy. One of the struggles in Youth Ministry is, that despite all of your best efforts, your ministry will be very much dependent on the size and growth of the church overall. On average, you can assume that your Youth Ministry will be about 10% of the total size of your church. This may vary of course depending on who your church is largely made up of. If you church is full of younger families, you may not see as many students yet. If your church is full of senior adults, you may not see as many students either. The point is, the Youth Ministry should be operating within the vision and direction of the whole church, and not within a silo of its own self.
Where you are does not matter as much as where you are headed
This may be the most important point of all. You may be large now, or you may be small. Either really matters little though. Where you are today does not promise it is where you will be in a few years. You must have a vision for your ministry. You must be moving leaders, parents, and students toward that vision. If you are not moving those you serve and lead toward that vision, you are not ministering effectively.
Every ministry should not grow to be massive in size. Your vision and purpose will be unique to your context. I have been told on many occasions, “Well, if one student comes to Christ it was worth it.” While well-meaning, it could not be more wrong. The value of your ministry is not determined by the response you receive. It is not determined by the number who show up or come forward. The reality is, “If you stand and serve faithfully and obediently, it will be worth it.” That is true whether anyone responds or shows up. We need not look any further than Jeremiah to understand that.
What do you make of numbers? How do you keep a healthy balance of them? Do you feel pressured and measured by them? Which of these do you relate to most? Leave a comment and share below.
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