An experienced youth pastor gives practical and workable ways to overcome specific barriers to growth and increase attendance in your youth group.
"Can I really expand my youth ministry & maintain quality?" Yes, you can and Len Kageler shows you how. Len understands what it takes to grow a youth ministry. In this practical volume, he shares his own time-tested insights, input from nationally-known church growth experts, and the wisdom of hundreds of youth workers he's surveyed. Len takes a head-on approach to the real-life issues you face in expanding your youth ministry, including: - How to attract and keep new kids - How to overcome obstacles to growth your own church creates - What personality types are most effective in youth ministry - What to do when you don't have enough space - How to successfully welcome "problem kids" into a growing youth ministry If you're ready to reach more kids with top-quality youth ministry, pick up How to Expand Your Youth Ministry.
Author Biography: Len Kageler is chair of youth ministry at Nyack College in Nyack, NY, author, speaker, seminar leader, and volunteer youth worker in his local church.
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Read an Excerpt
The longer he talked, the worse I felt.“We've got about five hundred coming to youth group. The group continues to grow rapidly. New people want to come back because they like the programs and love all the excitement. Many come to Christ each week. And the best part is, the whole program is planned and led by the kids themselves. They do everything. They're totally in charge.” He went on about his wonderful group for nearly an hour. Did I sit there saying to myself, “Praise God, the Lord is really blessing his ministry. It's so great that such good things are happening. I'm so happy for this youth pastor!”? Not exactly. I was skeptical, jealous, envious, and most of all, depressed. Not only was I depressed, I felt very guilty. The conclusion I reached was: “I am one crummy youth pastor. Here I am, struggling to get a handful of kids out on Wednesday night, and this guy has 40 kids just doing the media for his programs. Why don't I wake up to reality and quit? I'll never really make it.” I've met a lot of youth workers who feel inferior because their numbers don't compare well with other youth groups. In fact, most youth workers feel this way. We look at our own group with a picture in the back of our minds of a huge youth group somewhere else where everything is “successful.” Then one morning, it hit me. “That guy said they had ten thousand people in their Sunday services. That means he's only got five percent of that number coming out to youth group. With a church of ten thousand he'd better have that many in youth group or something is wrong! We've got ten percent of our Sunday morning number coming out. Hey, I'm not so bad after all!” My guilt and remorse melted away. This insight, and many others that have followed through the years, have made a huge difference in how I look at youth groups and youth ministry. BY THE NUMBERS This book takes a practical look at increasing youth ministry attendance. We may say we're not concerned about numbers. We may say we're not caught up in an unspiritual success syndrome. We may pretend to ignore the numbers. But let's face itthe numbers matter. All of us surely prefer numerical growth to decline. Growth affirms that we're doing something right. It's a sign that God is blessing. Those of us who receive paychecks from our churches are smart enough to know that if the right numbers aren't there, we're out of jobs. In this book, we'll look at a number of factors that impact how many kids show up at our meetings, events, and activities. We'll see that some are, quite frankly, beyond our control, while we can directly influence others. We won't stop with just analysiswe'll also consider practical and workable ways to overcome specific barriers to youth group attendance growth. This won't be an encyclopedia of gimmicks like cash rebates for youth group attendance! These attendance-building ideas have integrity and have worked in real live youth groups around the country. Research for this book carried me in a lot of directions, but my main source of information is a survey prepared especially for the 1994 National Youth Workers Conventions in Chicago and San Diego. In studying youth ministry attendance, I've had many “aha” experiences. Things I've observed during twenty-five years of youth ministry have become understandable in the light of hard data. Speaking of hard data, following are some facts and figures that may bring a smile or a frown. CHURCH ATT<%END%>ANCE EQUALS YOUTH MINISTRY ATT<%END%>ANCE How many people attend your church? It is a simple and complicated question at the same time. In the 1994 survey, “church attendance” meant combined Sunday morning and/or Saturday night turnout. “Youth group attendance” meant the number of students that show up at a non-Sunday school function that is considered the main gathering of the group. Take a moment to ponder the charts on page 14. Now you can see why I eventually felt so good after talking with my mega-church friend. If church attendance is in the 450 to 750 range, attendance for each age bracket will likely be between thirty and forty students. If a thousand or more people attend church, the youth ministry will likely be in the 100-plus category. It is interesting, isn't it, that youth group attendance seems to plateau at thirty to forty. Why? More on that in Chapter Four. UPS AND DOWNS When I first got into youth ministry in Seattle, Washington, I envisioned that growth in my youth group would start slow, then, gathering speed like a rocket, soar higher and higher. My attendance graph would show dramatic, even exponential growth. In reality, my stats didn't exactly rocket skyward. I blamed it on my predecessor. I had inherited some dysfunctional kids and it wasn't my fault that the group didn't grow as long as they were still around. By the end of the fourth year, however, the problem kids had graduated. Now I had no one to blame but me! By then, I had noticed a distinct attendance pattern. Group attendance was good in the fall, a little better in the winter, down in the spring, and way down in the summer. I figured it had to do with Seattle weather. Once the sun started to shine, kids found outdoor activities more attractive than youth group. Then I began to compare the current fall with previous years, and so on through the seasons. That gave me a truer picture of year-to-year growth or decline. Growth was modest, but at least it was growth. A few months later, our senior pastor resigned. I subsequently saw my numbers drop from the previous year, as did attendance at Sunday morning worship. This gave me another “aha” experience: Growth and decline in youth ministry attendance is closely linked to the ups and downs of Sunday morning attendance. My “up and down” experience in Seattle, according to research, is a nationwide reality. Among the 460 churches represented in the survey, if worship attendance was up, so was youth group attendance. The opposite was also true. A decline in worship attendance generally meant youth group numbers would similarly sink. As a church grows, the pool of people who have teenagers increases. Some, though not all, of these will want to attend youth group. Our attendance and total pool of church kids both increase accordingly.
Table of ContentsCHAPTER ONEYouth Group Attendance: The Big Picture CHAPTER TWO Overcoming Growth Anxiety CHAPTER THREE Your Personality (And How It Impacts Growth) CHAPTER FOUR Teflon or Velcro? Creating an Attractive Environment CHAPTER FIVE Practical Solutions for Specific Problems 1: Obnoxious Kids CHAPTER SIX Practical Solutions for Specific Problems 2: Rivalries CHAPTER SEVEN Practical Solutions for Specific Problems 3: Lack of Space CHAPTER EIGHT Enjoying What You Have