Rollercoaster in Youth Ministry

Tearing Down Your Youth Ministry Rollercoaster

Rollercoaster in Youth Ministry

What?  You did not see the rollercoaster your ministry had when you were hired?

You haven’t noticed it on all of your retreats?  You haven’t seen it there in the room with you during your Youth Worship?

Hmmm…well, you should look harder.  I promise it is there.

Where is it?  What is it?  Is it as fun as it sounds?  Well…

Every ministry has this youth ministry rollercoaster (and no it doesn’t come with cotton candy).  If you back away and look at your ministry you will see it.  You will see that some grades are larger and stronger than others.  Generally speaking a larger, stronger grade will be followed by a few who are inconsistent, much smaller, or simply not present at all.  This leaves us with a continual cycle of going from student leaders to a vacuum of leadership in students we must fight to backfill.  Rinse and repeat…

So how do you avoid this?  How do we change this?  Here are a few thoughts…

1. Recognize that we are often the cause of it.

We cause this innocently enough, but we cause it nonetheless.  We can invest heavy into one group and unintentionally somewhat neglect the others.  One group is more vocal, more consistent, and more involved and they naturally take more of our attention.  The other groups are left for flounder a bit on their own and slowly fade away.

2. Be intentional to invest in those students “in the dip” of the coaster.

There are some pretty awesome students “in the dip” of your Youth Ministry rollercoaster.  We need to see them and invest in them intentionally.    The truth is, those larger groups…they would probably come whether they get all that attention or not.  This is not the case with those students in the dip.  They need your attention.  They need to feel seen, valued, and missed.

3. Build a culture that pays forward not a “youth group” for the now.

Youth ministry is a transitional ministry.  The problem with the youth ministry rollercoaster is that one day you need those students that are in the dip and you don’t have them.  You can build a bigger youth group by focusing on those bigger groups, but one day they will be gone.  What you will be left with will be what have built.  In fact, you are even now producing exactly what your ministry is designed to produce.  Work to build a culture in your Youth Ministry…not just a “youth group.”

Do you see this Youth Ministry rollercoaster in your ministry?  How do you deal with it?  Leave a comment and share ONE thing you are doing to try to tear this Youth Ministry rollercoaster down.

Photo credit: Alexis Gravel / Foter / CC BY-ND