Creating Dynamics in a Small Youth Ministry
In youth ministry, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game, but don’t let where you serve determine your worth. If you’re currently a youth minister for a small youth ministry, that’s awesome! Don’t feel discouraged. Instead, get excited about the opportunity God has set before you. Here are a few tips for doing small youth ministry. These have helped me, and I hope they’ll help you, too.
1. It’s not always about the next bigger and better thing.
Over the years, I’ve been asked in interviews if I saw small youth ministry as a stepping-stone to something bigger. Never look at a youth group as a stepping-stone—instead, see it as a destination. Consider your current assignment the most important one ever.
2. Don’t let quantity affect quality.
The first youth director job I had was when I was 19 years old and in seminary. I would sometimes prepare my Sunday school lesson during the 30-minute drive to church. I let the number of students I served affect the amount of time I put in to prepare for them.
3. In everything you do, set a standard of excellence higher than you think you can reach.
Even if only five students show up, prepare for your weekly Bible studies and activities on a level that would be great for five hundred students. Give your students something they would be glad to bring their friends to. Create events that are exciting—don’t just throw something together because only a few will come. I recently had an event where every student had to bring a friend to be his or her partner for a night of competitions. We doubled our numbers that night.
4. Get out of your office.
If you’re a minister of a small youth ministry, take advantage of that. Get to know the students on a more personal level. Interact with them on social media. Go to their schools, have lunch with them, and meet their friends. Go to their plays, games, or whatever else they’re involved in. Show them that you care about them individually. I recently led FCA for one hundred students at a high school—only one of those was in my youth group.
5. Focus on discipleship.
Our job is to point students to Jesus, but don’t stop there! Teach them. Pray for them. Challenge them. Love them. Mentor them. Push them to grow. Disciple them on a personal level. This would be out of the question for a youth minister with fifty students, but not for you. Make disciples who can then go and make disciples, and watch your group grow spiritually as well as numerically.
6. Get out in the community.
You have the option of taking your group places that larger youth groups can’t go without splitting up into smaller groups. So change it up sometimes and hold Bible study at the local coffee shop or at a student’s house. Go see a movie. Get involved with local homeless shelters, help the elderly, or think of other places your group can volunteer.
Be positive. Be intentional. Be passionate. Be real. Be excellent.
Kelsey Berlanga has been active in youth ministry the past 9 years, currently serving at First United Methodist Church of Alexandria, Louisiana. Mother to a three year old daughter that already loves praying, preaching, and praising with no shame. Follow her on instagram or facebook @kelseyberlanga
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.