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Church Leaders, Your Youth Ministry Can’t Save Your Church

 —  December 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

Small Church Politics – Part 4 – Final Thought

(From Part 3) “How do you deal with the political struggles of getting church members to understand that ministry isn’t what it was in the denominational hey-days of the middle and latter 1900’s?”

This is the last of this train of thought, at least until some church political situation gets under my skin and I go on a rant. So how DO you deal with the struggle of helping church members see that youth ministry isn’t what it was in the ’90’s?

I had a youth group of about 200 for most of the 90’s. I wonder what the group or ministry would be like now? Somehow I think it would be all different.

THEN: People (youth) came to us (the church, the youth group.)

NOW: They’re not busting our doors down to get in.

THEN: Hold a lock-in or youth week and you’d populate your group for another school year.

NOW: Hold a lock-in and you’d better get EVERY guests’ name who attends because it may be your last guest for awhile…and who can afford a Youth Week? Much less the fact that no one’s got time for that kind of thing.

THEN: The advent of this new thing called “You’ve Got Mail” from AOL. No one had cell phones so no texting. Youth HAD to come on Sunday nights just to contact each other.

NOW: Students have multiple ways to connect through texting and social media. They’ve communicated with each other several times that day alone, so coming to youth group isn’t really as necessary for seeing their friends.

THEN: Mainline denom churches were alive and well. They didn’t have to think much about decline.

NOW: A large percentage of mainline churches and denoms are getting smaller, don’t know what to do about it, and are quietly panicking.

The nuance of survival? Stop thinking about how to survive. Think and then do ways to “get out there” and help others live. The youth program can’t be “the savior” of a church by attracting more families. Small churches have to get off the pew and back out the doors.



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!

One response to Church Leaders, Your Youth Ministry Can’t Save Your Church

  1. Thanks for the post, Stephanie. Good food for thought.

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