I walked into the small church Fellowship Hall and it was busting at the seams. 300-plus teenagers and about 70 leaders—far better than a 1-to-5 ratio of adult to teen.
Don’t be intimidated by the numbers… be challenged by the ratio.
This was a church of less than 1,000… no building (they were borrowing the Fellowship Hall from a neighboring church). Normally, they met spread out in living rooms all over the city.
It was fun to see the energy in the room. Each table had six to eight kids and one or two adults all laughing, talking, and eating pizza together (there’s that ratio again). It was the beginning of their D-Now weekend (D-Now stands for Disciple Now, a weekend retreat of sorts focusing on the spiritual growth of teenagers). I was the speaker, but it wasn’t me who would be making the big impact that weekend… it was the 70 adult leaders who were spread throughout the room connecting with kids. God was using these caring mentors to make a huge difference in the lives of these teens.
What was their secret?
The church was less than a year old and had been without a facility, which means any midweek efforts to connect as a youth ministry has been scattered throughout various restaurants and houses. This requires plenty of caring adults who will hang out with kids at these countless locations across the city each week– a good problem to have, because it forced this growing church to connect adults with kids. In fact, they have about 50 adult leaders involved weekly connecting with 250 kids in these scattered small groups. When they came together every once in a while, like this weekend, for a weekend of spiritual growth, the numbers grow even bigger.
This made an especially potent D-Now Weekend. Each time I finished speaking, age-specific and gender specific groups of 6 or 8 teens would pile into vehicles with their adult leaders and head to a host house where they would dialogue about what they had just heard. All weekend leaders kept approaching me, “We had an amazing talk last night about what you shared. Kids opened up and started sharing from their hearts!”
A church is forced to recruit caring adults and find locations where they can connect with kids each week. The result? 250 kids connected with adult mentors who spend time with them weekly.
This is what effective youth ministry looks like.
How can you use what you have to connect caring adults with young people?
What are the hurdles you have to leap?