A couple years ago, we started to charge students to join a small group in our youth ministry. Why? Good question – honestly, I’ve had to explain this on occasion to parents, so writing it out here will help me articulate the answer. Just for perspective, as a youth group we budget $0 for Life Groups, the money raised by registration fees goes to cover resources, trainings and materials. Here’s the details:
The most important item a student will receive is their new Bible. This year we moved away from the Life Application Bible to use the LIVE Bible. Really, really like this Bible, excited to get it in students’ hands. The Bible retails for $22.99 but can be picked up for $15-18 pretty easily.
In the case the student already has a LIVE Bible, we offered up some alternate resources for students to use over the course of the year. This year we gave a Bible study book or a pocket Bible commentary.
We gave students a small journal to write down their learnings and record prayer requests from their group. We’ve printed different ones over the years, sometimes they’re simple like a little Mead notebook with a sticker on it, sometimes more complicated. Either way, we want students to have something in their hand to write down what they’re learning.
Students don’t feel the actual return on this one like getting a physical item like a Bible or journal – but they’ll feel it each week during the teaching time. LIVE isn’t cheap – $499 for the first year and $99 every year after, but we love it and it has quickly become part of our 4-year teaching plan.
Once again, something students won’t feel tangibly, but it should be felt intangibly every moment of the school year. We pour into volunteers, giving them training, discussion groups, resources (like 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders) and more. Every minute we pour into small group leaders is a chance to pour into 5-10 students.
Not saying that your youth ministry should charge for small groups next year, but it is working for us, and students are getting a TON of bang for their thirty bucks.