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