Thursday, June 17, 2010


I used to hope students would flock to youth group because of my unbelievable leadership and phenomenal speaking gift. Boy was I crazy. I even hoped it would be because of Jesus but that's not usually the case either.

In reality students come to youth group because of friends and fun. Yes, we hope they'll get a little Jesus but most students aren't motivated by that.

Last night was a great reminder of how important fun is. We did a simple activity called "soaplympics" and yes it was a lot of fun. It's amazing what a water hose, tarp, soap, rope and large fruit will do for community in your youth group.

I didn't speak and no one prayed that I'm aware of, but we as a group moved even closer to community and God was truly honored.

Sure, fun isn't all we should do but it's important.

Hey, have fun out there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

3 Ways to Keep Upper Classmen in the Game

High school ministry attrition is so common in churches. Many times after students get car keys they become disinterested in the body of Christ.

To join the discussion on why high school attrition check out...

Why Attrition in High School Ministry

So the question becomes how do we provide an environment that encourages students to remain engaged as they reach those busy junior and senior years?

Provide Ownership

High school students have great ideas about student ministry. A few months ago I sat down with 17 students individually and asked their opinion about our high school ministry. You can learn so much by simply asking questions and listening. Asking and listening gives them true ownership in the ministry.

Right now our students are planning our first high school led worship experience. They're brainstorming the theme for the night, how to present it creatively and thinking through what it's going to take to pull it off. They own the night and they know they need Jesus to be effective in the planning process.

Provide Opportunity

Being unintentional about getting upper classmen hands on in ministry is like having a basketball team that practices but never plays a game. Many students have heard Bible stories their whole life. They've heard how others have been in dangerous situations when God came through in huge ways...but few of them have experienced it.

God has gifted student in remarkable ways, our job is to help them discover their gifts, develop these gifts and then provide opportunity for them to utilize their gifts. Sure, most the time it's easier to do ministry ourselves, but think about how powerful it would be if you sat down with a student and helped them learn how to study the scripture and write a talk. Think about how much they would need the power of God to come through when they stand up and deliver a message to their peers. This and other experiences like it keep students in the game.

From setting up chairs to praying to taking care of the tech needs, there are so many ways for students to minister. As they get older they don't simply want to be spectators, they want to be in the game.

Provide Ongoing Relationship

Youth staff will come and go. Yes, the average time a youth minister stays with a church has increased over the years, but making sure students connect with volunteer adult leaders is crucial. There's less chance volunteers move on.

Having a volunteer leader who has pastored a group of students since they were freshmen or earlier forges great relationships that grow through the junior and senior years of high school.

Sure, there are a lot of other issues to discuss, but if we as churches can focus on these 3 areas not only will our students stay in the game, their understanding of their role in the body of Christ and service to the world will increase.

God get's the glory and students get to enjoy what it's like to be used by God. Wouldn't we want that for all our students?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why Attrition in High School Ministry?

Yesterday afternoon I stepped into my executive pastor's office to say hi. Now, you need to understand that Steve is unlike any executive pastor I've ever met, heck, Steve is unlike any person I've met. He's passionate, aggressive, gentle (most the time), a servant and values out of the box thinking. All of this wrapped up with a shaved head and a huge heart.

As we were pontificating about ministry (good word, hugh) he asked a question that has me thinking. "Does anyone know how to do ministry to juniors and seniors"? Of course in my mind I'm thinking, well yes, I'm standing right here.

In reality our ministry has gone through major transition over the last 3 years. This transition has really hurt our ability to serve upper classmen. We're rebuilding.

Most student ministries struggle to influence students after they get their drivers license. We've heard a lot of statistics about young adults leaving the church, I believe they're leaving the church much earlier than college, they leave church when they're still in high school.

So why don't they hang around? Why do we typically have great attrition when students get older. Here's some thoughts.

They have greater freedom...

When they get car keys they all of a sudden have more options of how to spend their time. Also parents may stop making their kids come to church as they get older. In reality, when kids have keys they can vote about how they value the student ministry. Many of them vote "no".

They have greater responsibility...

You know the drill, jobs, sports, band, drama, college prep. All these opportunities get loyalty from upper classmen, and they should. The question is, why doesn't the church receive the same loyalty from students?

They have greater interests...

As students begin to see the world differently their interests sometimes mature. The church typically doesn't give context for them to develop and serve in a way that impacts the world around them. Students at some point think the church is irrelevant and they go elsewhere to have impact.

Some seem to have the view that if the church can get students through the high school years without getting pregnant smoking pot or getting drunk, the church has done a good job. If parents don't have to twist the arm of their kids to come to church that's a huge plus.

Shouldn't high school ministry be more than that? In the next couple of days I want to share some thoughts on how to keep high school students in the game.

BUT before, what are other reasons we loose high school students as they get older?