Training Tools


Dear Youth Pastor,

We’re glad that you’re serious about becoming a better youth leader, and helping your volunteers become better, as well. Heck, that’s why The Source for Youth Ministry exists… Helping Youth Workers Reach Kids!

This collection of tools is everything you need to lead your team through an exciting 1-2 hour training seminar on “growing the impact of our youth ministry.” This training resource can be used by anybody. If you have 6 kids in the group, or 600, these lessons will help you grow in impact. It will also help your volunteers understand that striving for mere numbers is futile, but numbers often are an indicator of God doing something!

Here’s what you’ll find:

  1. The TRAINING SCRIPT. This is the document you are reading now, and it includes the actual training script you should use while teaching the seminar, a group activity to do with your team at the beginning of the seminar, and some team takeaway questions at the end, which is a list of questions specifically designed to help your team make some changes based on the seminar.

    The portions of red text/font are notes for YOU, the PRESENTER.

    Also, this training script matches the Powerpoint perfectly. During the training script, you will see blue text/font (typically it will read “NEXT SLIDE”). There will also be a graphic of the next slide pictured, as well. This is just a signal for you to advance the Powerpoint so that what you are “teaching” is also what you are “showing.”

    Got it? Good!

  2. The PowerPoint. This is a professional slideshow presentation (that mirrors the script from start to finish) that you can use in conjunction with the training script below. Although using the Powerpoint is “optional,” it will allow you to “show” your group the major points outlined in this training script.


Like we said, this is EVERYTHING you need to lead your very own training seminar! We even give you the order you can present this in for maximum effect! We want to provide you with these tools for a couple of reasons. First, this is life-changing information. If your team is better equipped to reach teenagers with God’s love, the Kingdom is blessed!

Secondly, we want to provide YOU with a professional seminar that YOU can lead for YOUR group, making YOU look like the hero. Now, we aren’t trying to put you on an ego trip, we just want to offer you the tools that will allow your team to have even greater confidence in you so you can lead them to the edge of their effectiveness and calling in youth ministry. Deal?

To begin your seminar, start your PowerPoint and use the training script below.



Every single time a group of youth pastors or youth leaders get together, you can bank on one question being asked: “How big’s your group?”

In other words, “How many kids attend your ministry?”

Sure, sometimes this question springs from youth pastors’ egos, but there are some righteous reasons to honestly gauge “the number” your ministry is responsible for. Heck, one whole book of the Bible is dedicated to “numbers!”

Today, we are going to spend some time talking about “Growing Our Impact.” But first, I want to do an activity with our group.


Prior to the beginning of the meeting, tape a huge piece of butcher paper/poster board to the wall on one side of the room that reads, “Strongly Agree.” On the opposite wall, post the same kind of sign, but make it read, “Strongly Disagree.”

OK guys, we don’t want to develop tunnel vision on “numbers alone,” and think that butts-in-seats is the ONLY way to gauge a successful student ministry. There are lots of facets to growing a group numerically, and that’s what this activity is all about.


This activity is called, “Where Do You Stand?” Take a look around the room. You will notice that these two walls on either side of the room have a sign attached to them. In a moment, I am going to ask you to stand up and move to a particular side of the room based on your thoughts about a few statements I’m going to make. You don’t have to actually be touching the wall when you take your stand; you can be a little closer to the middle of the room, thus signifying that you agree, but not STRONGLY. You can also be totally up against the wall, thus signifying that you STRONGLY AGREE. The same is true for the “disagree” half of the room.

Here are the rules.

  1. No talking DURING your decision making time. I really want you to choose your position based on what YOU think, not what you think so-and-so thinks. Got it?
  2. You can’t be dead-center-middle of the room on any of them. You have to be on one side of the middle, or the other.
  3. You have 15 seconds to make your decision after I make each statement.


  1. The size of our youth group does not matter. Agree or Disagree? Go.
  2. Opera music is better than Country music. Go. (We are just ADDING this for the sake of fun.)
  3. At this time, God is pleased with the size of our youth group. Agree or Disagree? Go.
  4. The biggest influence on our size of group/number of kids is the programs we offer. Agree or Disagree? Go.
  5. Our biggest obstacle keeping us from growing numerically is a youth budget that is too small. Agree or Disagree? Go.
  6. Wendy’s original Chocolate Frosty is better than the new Vanilla Frosty. Go. (Again we are just ADDING this for the sake of fun.)
  7. The amount of time adult leaders spend with students outside of “youth group time” greatly affects the size of our group. Agree or Disagree? Go.

After each statement is made and everyone has chosen their position in the room with respect to the walls, go around and ask one or two people WHY they chose that particular stance. Also, feel free to add any statements to this list that are applicable to your setting.

Alright, that was a fun way to get us all thinking about youth group size and what God might want to do through us to grow numerically. As we talk about growing our youth group today, it may interest you to know where our youth group stands in comparison to the national average.


In an interview with Jim Burns, author of “The YouthBuilder,” he stated that the average youth group size in America is 12, and it’s run by one volunteer. Many youth leaders get discouraged with small numbers. Are small numbers bad? Many people say no! A phrase often resounds in the youth ministry world, “I’ve seen dozens of groups that were a mile wide and an inch deep.”

On the other hand, are we to look at our youth group size and simply shrug our shoulders? Is there a chance that stagnant group size might reflect a little on what’s going on in the group? (Or maybe better said, “What’s not going on.”) Should we justify it by saying, “That’s OK. We’re growing spiritually, so numbers don’t matter”?

Since God takes numbers seriously, so should we.

Very often, growth in numbers is a good measuring stick of God doing something exciting. Let’s take a look at the early church in Acts:


  • Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to their number that day (Acts 2:41).
  • They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-47).

There is even more written about their growth just a couple of chapters later.


  • Many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand (Acts 4:4).
  • So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

Even in the smallest town with the humblest of youth groups, growth in numbers happens when God is doing something. It’s a four-step process that works like this:


First, kids grow in their faith. This is what should be happening in a healthy church- inner growth of the individual. Then their faith becomes contagious. Their friends notice something different. These new believers start spiritual conversations with these friends and eventually bring them to church. Next, their friends are reached with the gospel, and THEY begin to grow! Finally, the newly reached kids’ faith becomes contagious, and they bring their friends! It’s a cyclical process; do the math!

Bottom line: we shouldn’t focus on numbers. But let’s keep it real: a “growth in numbers” might just be an indicator that this process is happening.

Can our youth ministry make a greater impact? Can we ensure that our calling in ministry is affecting lives the way God wants it to? One of the most frequent questions asked is, “How can my youth group grow and reach more people?”


That’s a fabulous question! Here are 5 steps that will get us going in the right direction.


1. PRAY for God’s Help
Ask God to increase our group size. Sure we all say we pray… but do we really? Let’s bear this truth in mind as we lead in youth ministry: God has already paid an incredibly high price for every student we will reach…He wants them EVEN MORE than we do!

Therefore, take a time each day to specifically pray for individual students and the friends they’ll reach. Pray for God’s direction in our programming and teaching. Yes, pray for the students that drive us nuts! Pray that God will lay compassion on our hearts, a compassion for lost students who we wouldn’t normally reach out to. But be careful…these are the kinds of prayers God has a reputation for answering!

(NOTE TO PRESENTER: Feedback is a time where you ask questions and “engage” your team to think about what you just taught.)


Feedback: What best describes our prayers for lost kids?

When you are finished with the question, proceed to the 2nd point.


2. CONTACT kids that need Christ
Let’s face it; our group is not going to grow numerically if we only minister to the kids that we know now. What I mean by contacting students that need Christ is this, “meeting kids where they are at and getting to know them.” While this is a huge process, at the very least, it involves discovering their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

But guess what? Our students aren’t the only ones who should be bringing students to youth group – we can meet students where they are at and build relationships with them, too! This does NOT mean walking up to a kid for the first time with a flyer in our hands. Instead, it means hanging out with students because we love them. If you like basketball, find where students play basketball and play with them, for the express purpose of showing them God’s love. If there are students who like to skateboard, let’s provide a place for them to skateboard. We can go to the sporting games of the schools around our church and meet students who participate.

Once we contact students and get to know them, then we’ll find opportunities to invite them to youth group or church. Here are a few ideas and places that we can use to contact students who need Christ:

  • School campus (during lunch works great!)
  • School sports (go to the games)
  • Local teen hang-out
  • Taco Bell by the school (or whatever restaurant is close by)

Contacting students can also happen on “our turf.” When new students come to our weekly programs, Bible studies, or events, let’s use that as an opportunity to get to know them. For instance, we can be on their team during game time, shoot hoops with them in the church parking lot, play ping pong with them; whatever we have available at our facility.


Feedback: What are some places that we can contact kids in our community? In other words, where are kids hanging out… and how can we join them?

When you are finished with the question, proceed to the 3rd point.


3. BUILD a relationship with them
What do we do after we’ve met new students? Simple: invest in them as a person. Don’t underestimate the incredible importance of learning their names, noticing their interests, or asking them about their week. This can only happen if we hang out with them.

Do you know what teenagers’ favorite pastime happens to be these days? Brace yourself. The number one way they want to spend their time is by hanging out with their family! Know what’s second? Time spent with friends. And time spent with “significant others” is third. Do you know what all that tells us? RELATIONSHIPS ARE CRUCIAL!!!

Building solid relationships with students is one of the best time investments we can make. As we build relationships with them, we’ll find opportunities to share the Gospel, disciple them, and even equip them to reach others.

Here’s some great ways to building relationships with students:


  • Have them over to our homes for movies, games, dinner, etc.
  • Take them out for a soda
  • Emphasize our small groups
  • Take them out for fun (sporting event, mall, etc.)
  • Do activities with them (laser tag, paintball, mini-golf, arcades, etc.
  • Visit their house (That’s right. Go and meet their parents and siblings. This can be HUGE!)

This is just a short list I came up with. You are probably thinking of some yourself.


Feedback: Brainstorm some other ways we can build or strengthen relationships with our students.

When you are finished with the question, proceed to the 4th point.


4. KEEP the kids we got
Many youth workers are so focused on getting kids in “the front door” when it comes to numerical growth that they totally forget about “the back door.” It’s fine for us to lead the charge on getting kids to come in the front door; let’s just make sure we’ve got somebody on our team that will keep the back door closed. Here’s how we can do that.

First, give the students that we “already have” something to bring their friends to, something they are excited about. This means creating an atmosphere of acceptance, meaningful relationships, and a creative and relevant program that students enjoy. A lot of people take programming for granted or dismiss it altogether. Why? Because it takes a lot of work! Sure, it takes a lot more time to arrange a bunch of vehicles for a video scavenger hunt, or find a video clip and set up all the media stuff to kick off a discussion, or arrange an all-nighter with laser tag, skating, a gym, etc. Yeah, it takes a lot of work to prepare dynamic talks and put together a budget that brings in dynamic speakers. BUT IT’S ALL WORTH IT!

Secondly, we need to give those students we “gain” some kind of responsibility. It can be simple (like serving in the café) or more complex (like being on the drama team). Regardless of the assignment, give them something that cements them to the ministry and helps them understand that Christ’s Body is NOT complete without them!


Feedback: What is the quality of our programming? Do students find it valuable, exciting, and worth their time overall, or do they complain of irrelevance, and boredom?

When you are finished with the question, proceed to the 5th point.


5. CREATE a momentum of growth in your group
We don’t usually talk about creating a momentum of growth; we talk about “advertising” instead. We make the mistake of thinking that advertising is simply handing out flyers or putting up posters. Cool fliers or posters and a big draw (food, giveaways, activities, etc.) will not guarantee a good event. We need to strategically plan our entire year with programs and events that give us ongoing opportunities to build up the size of our group over the long haul.

For example, if we’re going to do a big pizza event to bring out a bunch of kids to our “whatever” night program… let’s not start the year off with THAT event. Some of us start the year out with our big event, putting all our eggs into that one basket. What if the event goes poorly, for instance, it gets rained out? Then what? Conversely, what if the event goes great? Still, what do we do to sustain that growth?

How about intentionally working towards momentum?

Start the year off bringing out as many students as we can (even if that’s only eight students). Challenge them to bring their friends. Build up the group’s size using fun events like “The Office” Office Party (see our FUN EVENTS page for even more ideas) and let them know the “pizza bash” is coming. Finally use the students, far and away our most effective marketing tool, to bring back all of their friends for that event. We can always offer incentives, like prizes for the person that brings the most friends, etc.


Feedback: What can we do during the following seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) to stimulate growth throughout the upcoming year?

When you are finished with the question, proceed to the CONCLUSION and TEAM TAKEAWAY found below.


Yes, this really works. There are youth workers who’ve used this process to grow a group of 7 students, meeting in a home each week, into a ministry with over 200 students, weekly! But more important than those numbers… kids were being reached with the Gospel, getting plugged into the church youth group, and growing in their faith. Our group has the potential to grow and reach our community for Christ. If we are ready to let God have the reigns, He can do incredible things in our ministry.

Let’s spend a few more minutes together talking about very specific questions our youth group will have to answer if we are to grow.


This portion of the training can be done in a number of ways.

  • You can do it right now, at the end of your training seminar (strongly recommended). Simply read off the questions to your group of leaders and facilitate discussion. You might want to have somebody writing down answers. This will really help if you need to refer back to them at a later time.
  • You can also assign your group to take home a copy of the list of questions and email you their answers.
  • You might even want to reconvene later, maybe in one week after all of the information has soaked in, and answer them as a group.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, make sure your team understands how important the answers to these questions are. You may find that some serious changes need to take place in your ministry to accommodate the kind of growth you envision.

1.How can we incorporate prayer in new ways as a strategy for growth?

2.Does our church and/or youth ministry need to change at all to be able to host new/more teens? If so, in what ways?

3.In the past month, how many leaders have spent one-on-one time with kids OUTSIDE of youth ministry-related programs and events? (In other words, how many adults have taken a kid out for ice cream, or to a sporting event, to invest in a relationship with that student?)

4.What are the 2 biggest “back doors” we perceive our youth ministry has? How can we close them?

5.What is a realistic – and godly – goal that we can set for our group’s growth over the next year?



If you found this training seminar to be helpful, the following books will really boost your group in their efforts to reach lost kids with God’s love.

Do They Run When They See You Coming?
Youth Specialties book by Jonathan McKee
dives right into the heart of how to reach out to
Do They Run When They See You Coming? “unchurched” teenagers … Without scaring them off!

Most youth workers feel like we just aren’t reaching enough students for Christ; at least that’s how I feel. In this book, Jonathan took me on a journey that was both convicting and encouraging at the same time! Instead of a few “happy hops to Heaven”, Jonathan provides a holistic approach to reaching this generation of un-churched students.
Kurt Johnston
Junior high pastor, Saddleback Church

Getting Students to Show Up Getting Students to Show Up
Getting Students to Show Up will challenge you to rethink your methodology when it comes to outreach. But more than that, it’ll show you, step-by-step, how to plan and execute a great outreach event for 10 or even 10,000 students. Whether you’re going for a city-wide shindig or a weekly gathering for your church or a campus, you’ll find plenty of tips and tools inside that will ensure your event actually reaches out to your demographic and points them toward Jesus.



Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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