I’ve been reading a book on church growth. It’s a little older, but the writing style was interesting, so it sucked me in pretty quickly. The name of the book is “Let My People Grow” by Tim Massengale. This isn’t a promo for the book, because honestly it’s the first book I’ve ever read on church growth, therefore I have nothing to compare it to. However, reading this book has set off a series of dominoes in my heart. As one revelation led to another, all of the pieces started to come crashing down until ultimately the final crushing blow hit. I came to a stirring, sobering revelation.
I’ve woefully missed the mark.
I’m not saying that because I’m looking for pity. This is not a pity-party post (try saying THAT ten times fast!). I’m saying it because it’s true. How did I come to that conclusion? I’ll say the same thing my dad always tells me: numbers don’t lie. And in this case, there’s really only one number that matters to me.
That’s about what my youth group averaged in a given week three years ago when I took over the role of Youth Pastor. That’s what we averaged two years ago. That’s what we averaged last year. And that’s what we average this year.
In other words, we’re not growing.
Sure, we’ve seen people filled with the Holy Ghost. There have been people baptized in Jesus’ name. Just not enough to surpass our attrition rate. And that all adds up to one simple, yet difficult truth; we aren’t growing.
It’s not because I don’t know HOW to grow; it’s that I haven’t actually put those mechanisms in place.
I KNOW I need to be spending time in public High Schools. I haven’t been doing it, because I’ve been allowing my bi-vocational status to be an excuse. TIme to change that.
I KNOW that, as found in Acts 2:46-47, growth involves prayer, Word, fellowship, unity, worship and sharing the love of Christ. I’ve emphasized those things, but I haven’t put into place a process that my students can operationalize to help them learn how to make these things a habit in their lives. Time to change that.
I KNOW that, to grow, you must do things to increase your visitor and Bible Study count, and follow up with those who come and who go through a Bible Study. I haven’t put mechanisms in place to make sure those things are happening, and more importantly that we are following up. Time to change that.
Worst of all, I KNOW that to have growth I need to spend more time investing in my students than doing the day-to-day work of Student Ministry that my students could probably do just as well as me with some training. In other words, I shouldn’t be spending most of my time making flyers, creating videos, running down fundraisers, making photocopies, running vacuum cleaners, etc…but I am. Why? Because I’ve allowed myself to slip into the dangerous mindset of “Well, if I don’t do it, it won’t be done exactly right.” Time to change that.
So I’m putting an action plan together. Not sure what all will be in it yet; I just know what the Holy Ghost has placed on my heart to this point. I have more prayer and fasting to do to completely work through it. I’ve been very transparent here because I want to be held accountable for doing what it takes to grow. If we only struggle in secret, we don’t give others a chance to sow into our lives.
So, those who read this faithfully…help me out here. What are you doing in some of these areas to make sure your youth group is growing? I’d love to hear your ideas, because I don’t want to face this same difficult revelation next year.