Youth Ministry Help

Why Home is the Best Location for Youth Ministry


The church was small, and they didn’t have a facility yet, so they had to meet in homes for youth group.

Had to.

Interesting… years later they got a building, a youth room, big speakers, cool lights… and the effectiveness of the youth group dwindled.

Sure, this kind of situation has many factors. Maybe it was a fluke thing.

Another church across the country grew a little too big for its britches. Youth group had turned into a big “program” and kids were getting missed. Sure, they divided into small groups every Thursday night—kids scattered around the youth room in circles, so loud it was sometimes difficult to hear your friend across the circle.

So they tried something different.

They met in homes.

And discipleship started booming. Kids began growing, getting connected, inviting more friends. Numbers grew.

Why? Comfy couches?

Funny, they only met as a big group once a month on Sunday night, then the rest of the week they focused on these small “home groups.”

The only difference was the location. For some reason the conversation became a little more intimate.

Fluke thing?

Forget young people for a second. My wife and I both teach a Bible study in our church right now. She has a group of women, me a group of guys. We began meeting at the church sitting around those round tables you see at every church… you know the type. The studies were good. They grew a little.

Then we moved both studies to homes.

Now picture a bunch of women sitting on coaches and big comfy chairs sipping tea out of real cups. Men sitting around a living room next to a crackling fire.

Both studies more than doubled in size.

Every week I hear one of the guys say to our host, “Larry, thanks so much for opening your home!”

There’s something about a home.

When I began youth ministry in 1990 we met in a home. Afterwards kids would sit and talk with the two parents who opened up their home. For years I saw those kids talk with these two parents at church. Those parents became trusted “go to” mentors for those kids.

Three years later I hosted ministry in my home. I remember teenagers engaging in conversation with my wife and holding my baby boy. My wife started discipling some of those girls. I officiated one of their weddings years later.

I don’t have anything against industrial grade round tables. I’m not hinting your youth group will dwindle if you meet in a youth room. I’m actually trying to assure you the inverse… that it’s okay if you don’t have a fancy youth room. Homes shouldn’t be thought of as “we had to meet in homes.” The truth is, you get to meet in homes!

I’m simply saying this: create a venue where young people feel comfortable to interact with positive adult role models. Create intimacy. Look for settings where kids see what a loving Christian home looks like on the inside.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a facility (like this group). A home—or group of homes—might even be exactly what you’re looking for.

Who knows… your group might actually grow.



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.


  1. Jeremiah Ross
    February 5, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    We do in home small groups on Sunday Nights for most of our High School. These groups are awesome and they started organically. My question is how would you approach this with Middle School. We have a group of Middle School Students during Sunday night church hours and I can’t think of a good way to move that to a home.

  2. Jonathan McKee
    February 5, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Great question Jeremiah. Glad your small groups are working in homes for high school. As for middle school, if it works better for parents logistically to use the church (like if they’ll already there at their own bible studies or evening church), then by all means don’t feel the pressure to force it in homes. Homes work great and have lots of benefits, but they aren’t CRUCIAL. If you can swing it the same way you do high school, then sure, swing it. Homes really create intimacy. But sometimes logistics don’t allow. My point of the above article is to stretch our thinking to not try to veer AWAY from homes, because in actuality they have a lot of benefits (when I hear a bunch of youth pastors longing for the day when they have their own “youth room.”). Hope this helps.

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