1. Stop praying.
If you’re dead set on shrinking your group, then refuse to intercede for the teenagers in your youth group and community. After all, it’s God who produces the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). Stop talking to him and it will shrink for sure (in all the wrong ways).
2. Refuse to invest in key student leaders.
That’s right! Focus your efforts on the casual youth group goers, and your key student leaders will soon leave frustrated by their lack of involvement. Soon after, the rest of the youth group will follow suit. After all, they are called student leaders for a reason. They can lead more teenagers into or out of your youth group depending on how well you invest in them.
3. Depend on a cool youth room and fun games.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but think about it this way, teenagers today are not easily impressed. Your XBox 360 won’t impress them because they probably already have one at home (and their’s is most likely in better working condition). And even if you have the coolest youth room in town, it still can’t compete with Dave and Busters. So if you are depending on the “if you build it they will come (and keep coming)” mentality when it comes to attracting and keeping teenagers, you’re in for a disappointment. But if you’re all about shrinkage, go for it!
4. Never inspire your teens with the urgency of the gospel.
Once your teenagers are motivated to evangelize their peers, game over, your youth group will start to grow. Keep them myopic, self-centered and fun-focused. This will ensure their hearts don’t get broken for their unreached friends who so desperately need the hope of Christ.
5. Refuse to equip them to evangelize.
If some of them happen to be motivated to share the good news, be sure to never, under any circumstances, equip them on how to actually do it (including having them download the Dare 2 Share app!). If they actually understand how to bring Jesus up, explain the gospel story and invite others to join the party … they may actually begin to do it. And that leads to nothing but growth.
6. Make your youth group meetings theoretical and purely theological.
Now don’t get me wrong, teenagers can enjoy theology. If taught properly, they may actually flock to a youth leader. So, the key here is to make sure it is theoretical knowledge of truth and not the practical application of it. Don’t open it up for debate or dialogue. Just teach it like an 80-year-old burnt out seminary prof, and your youth group will shrink like wool pants in a hot dryer.
7. Be average.
According to the late Mike Yaconelli, the average youth leader has less seniors than juniors, less juniors than sophomores and less sophomores than freshman. If this is true, then whatever the average youth leader is doing works pretty well when it comes to shrinking a youth group.
8. Refuse to love these teenagers with the love of Christ.
Many teenagers today feel isolated and alone. So, if you love them genuinely from the heart with the love of Christ, they will come flocking. Why? Because they are living in a performance-driven “I love you if” world and are constantly feeling the pressure to excel and exceed. When they encounter a youth leader who loves them no matter what, they can’t help but buzz around the youth group like bees around flowers.
9. Don’t give them a cause worth living for.
Give teenagers a cause and they might look at your youth group as a gathering place for mission minded believers and actually show up and get involved. Teenagers love causes, and we, as believers, have the ultimate cause, the very cause of Christ himself … to make disciples of all nations. If you frame spreading the good news of Jesus as a cause and engage teenagers to reach their world and the world with the gospel, then your youth group will grow.
Refuse to engage them in the cause of Christ, and, sooner or later, they’ll find a cause of their own to invest in.
10. Don’t recruit godly, authentic adult volunteers.
Depend on your own magnetic personality to build the youth group. Refuse to recruit men and women who love Jesus and love teenagers to invest in young lives at your side. If you make it all about you, at the minimum there will be a ceiling to your youth group growth. But start taking Titus 2:1-8 seriously by having older men invest in younger men and older women invest in younger women, and you may just have a growth explosion (both spiritually and numerically) on your hands.
And who wants that?