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I never liked running until I was out of college and on my own. The reason I disliked it so much was because I felt like my lungs were burning two minutes into the run. What I later learned is that in order to go the long haul, I had to find a comfortable pace. It needed to be a pace that I could maintain; yet push at the same time. Instead of focusing on how fast my legs were moving and how quickly my arms were flailing I needed to look at the quality of my breathes.
In youth ministry it’s easy to get focused on growing the numbers while forgetting how to maintain them at the same time. The size of your ministry can be a sign of health; however, if all your teens are numbers, than you’ll find an unhealthy ministry. In other words you need to have the same teens coming back each week. If you don’t you will never go deep and you will never grow past a certain size. Your job will no longer be authentic relationships, it will become about turning a crank and in the end you will only find frustration.
In the end it’s about know your:
- Following Up – It’s easy to assume that because your teens will show up once that they’ll automatically show up again the following week. You need to constantly extend an invitation to the teens asking them to come back each week. Do it in an email, on Facebook and at the end of each program. The more you follow up the more they’ll see that you truly care about their attendance.
- Building Ratios – As your ministry grows your capacity to interact with each teen diminishes. The more you build the ratio of adults to teens the deeper the relationships in your ministry will go. A teen might come because they’ve heard that you are great; however, when they meet you there might be a lack of connection. By building ratios you can ensure that you have different types of adults to match up with different types of teens.
- Capturing Their Info – Get their phone number, Twitter handle, see if they are on Facebook and even get an email address. Chances are they have more than one way to get in touch with them, the challenge is discovering which one is most effective. Don’t assume one teen is like the other, it might cause more work to email, text and tweet; however, technology is trying to help us consolidate our efforts.
- Teaming Up With Parents – If you get to know their parents, you’ve gotten yourself an important ally. When a teen hasn’t shown up for a while, tell their parent. If a teen is struggling to get a ride, talk to the parent. When you partner with the parents you create an accountability at home to ensure that teens will show up the next week. And like the teens, gather as much contact info for the parents as you would the teens.
In the end it’s all about being CONSISTENT, PERSISTENT AND CLEAR. Again, with all the distractions happening out there in the world, you are competing for their attention. Let them know that you care by reaching out more than every once in a while.
How do you maintain numbers in your ministry?