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Numbers DO Matter in Small Church Uthmin – Part 1

 —  March 18, 2014 — 5 Comments

Stepping out from the pages of Mark DeVries’ book, Sustainable Youth Ministry, comes this statement: sometimes it IS about the numbers. Churches that don’t set target attendance goals for their ministries wind up in more conflict, dissenting opinions and staff turnover than those that DO set commonly created, well-communicated attendance goals.

1st Measurable Marker of Ministry Success: How many students should be attending your church’s youth ministry? 10%. 

Of what? Members on the rolls? Active members and visitors? Youth rolls? The answer, long proven by research and Ministry Architects’ work with hundreds of churches is that the healthy youth ministry settles around 10% of the weekly worship average.

Start with this all-important concept: Its important for small churches to understand that youth ministry is WAY more than just those youth that come to youth group. In today’s crazy chaoticly calendared world, youth ministry is to any youth who comes to any part of the church’s programming. Whether you’re the youth leader or the choir director, if you’ve got a student in your programming-you’re in ministry to students. The golden-oldie days of youth coming to worship AND Sunday school AND youth group AND choir AND,etc….are a part of the past. Today, to give quality spiritual nurture to students, it has to be twice as fast because there’s half as much time to do it in.

So the number starts here: 1) Determine 10% of your church’s weekly worship attendance. 2) Count up how many individual students in 6th grade (or 7th-depending where your uthmin starts) thru 12th grade walk through the doors of your church in an average week. NO ONE gets counted twice and don’t count the children or post-high school. For example, your church’s weekly worship attendance is 105 and you have 13 youth living life in your church on a weekly basis. Its slightly better than 10%, so the number of students involved in ministry at your church is solid. Celebrate!

If the answer was “yes” to 10% or higher, chances are that your ministry has a lot of sustainable systems and processes in place. Things like a solid first-timer process, dead-on data management, reaching out to “missing in action” teens and a systematic contact plan greatly increase your critical mass. (BTW: churches rarely get beyond the 20% mark and if they do, its not without other weird circumstances coming up like a uber-unique community program or space/budget issues, etc.). Less than 10% means that something is amiss and usually its more than one thing.

Next number? How to staff your ministry for success coming in a few days. Feel free to ask away.

Stephanie

Stephanie Caro

Stephanie Caro

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Stephanie Caro has been involved in ministry to youth and youth workers in the local church since…well, a long time – 30+ years. Her humorous, straightforward style keeps her busy presenting and coaching at conferences, training events, camps, mission trips, retreats, churches, etc. Her latest books are, “Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches” and “99 Thoughts for the Smaller Church Youth Worker,” published by Group/Simply Youth Ministry. Stephanie is a contributing author to several youth ministry resources in addition to her regular column “Smaller Church Youth Ministry” in Group Magazine. Stephanie is Senior Consultant for Mark DeVries’ Ministry Architects and the director for their Small Church Ministry Architects division. She and her hubby, Steve, live in Houston, TX. All 7 kids are grown and out – praise God!

5 responses to Numbers DO Matter in Small Church Uthmin – Part 1

  1. Great post. I have read the Sustainable Youth Min book by Devries and worked with Youth Min architects. Our church is about 150-175 in congregational attendance. Our Sunday night youth group attendance is around 40 students.

    As we lean closer to the 20% mark – we do have struggles with spacing and using multiple spaces. I have utilized the local university students as small group leaders as a way to meet our growing needs as well. The systems (first timer, follow up, etc.) you mentioned are vital, albeit time consuming, but key in developing relationships with students. Follow up is key. Just wanted to affirm that this post rings true for me.

    • Stephanie Caro
      Stephanie Caro March 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks for the affirmation, Josh. As you approach the 20% ceiling, as Mark calls it, an important step will be keeping certain church teams or committees informed so that they can work on strategic plans for the future. In other words, your personnel should have plans for increased staffing and your building/trustees plans for spacing. These can be plans that kick-in with certain numerical growth even if its just recognition that the growth does exist regardless of whether there’s money to increase space or staff. Sometimes its helpful for them to have a plan B for you while they’re working on plan A. Them being on the inside of your terrific problem is a faster course to correction than you owning the problem alone.

      You must be doing some great ministry, my friend.

  2. Stephanie, in my previous church our youth group was beyong the 20%, closer to 50% of the congegration on a regular basis. While adults told me to my face how excited they were, they went to the senior pastors about not being ministered too. How does this get balanced when the youth grow faster than the adults?

  3. Aaron Kortteenniemi March 19, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hi!

    May have something to do with not having english as my first language, but I am not familiar with the term “weekly worship attendance”. Is it the amount of people coming to the Sunday service, every single human coming to some church activity during the week, the same excluding youth, or something else?

  4. Danny Bermúdez March 23, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Grieta read! Thanks for the insight. Can anyone point me to some resources for first timer process?

    Thanks!

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