The Real Secret to Growing Your Numbers!

It was a difficult time. A year had gone by and the same six teens from the student band were the only ones coming every week to our student program. I felt like a failure. I remember sitting down with my pastor, waiting for him to say, “You’re done.” Instead, he told me the biggest secret to growing a ministry:

IT TAKES TIME.

I had only been in youth ministry for a little over a year, but it felt like forever. The problem is that I expected instant results. I was frustrated trying to unlock the secret to growing a ministry. But, all I needed was time and:

A PLAN.

If you are just showing up each week expecting teenagers to come, you’ll be disappointed. Your ministry needs a strategy, which comes from a solid vision and mission. You need to know:

Who You Are Trying to Reach?

What’s Competing in the Community?

What Is the Biggest Opportunity for Growth?

Answer those questions to unlock the secret of how you are going to reach the next generation. Your plan will have flaws because people and circumstances change. Tweak it and adjust it, but keep with it.

TRUST

You need to trust the people around you. Build trust in your pastor, your coworkers and your volunteers. If you cannot build trust, you will not be able to expand your capacity as a leader. Trusting means delegation and allowing others to give you insight.

In addition, you need to trust God. That means embracing desert periods where nothing seems to go right. Take those times to lean into Him. The more you trust God in your ministry, the more willing you will be to take risks.

PATIENCE

Again, growing your ministry takes time. But you also need patience for volunteers to step up. You need patience for the word to get out. You need patience to see the foundation of your ministry grow. To build your patience, make sure you are pacing yourself. Set goals and take time to rest.

COMPANIONSHIP

Youth ministry is not meant to be done alone. On top of building a solid volunteer core, you need to surround yourself with accountability. Find men and or women you can go to when you:

Need Encouragement

Have a Problem You Cannot Solve

Have to Make a Big Decision

Need Honest Feedback

Leadership can feel lonely. Find people to walk alongside of you to cheer you on.

PERSISTENCE

To make the plan work, you need to go at it consistently. That means getting back up after you fail. It means trying something more than twice. If you only try a program one or two times, you are only seeing a few of the problems. Sometimes you need to knock off the rust and get through the newness before you make any significant changes.

There is no secret to growing your ministry. The numbers will come once you put the system in place and start turning the wheel. Just give it time. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has been doing youth ministry for a while.  

Previous articleAl Mohler: "Preacher: Don't Come Out of Your Pastor's Study Until …"
Next articleAdvice for the New Churchgoer (Resist the Urge to Quit + More)
Chris Wesley
Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met my wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, heI was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.

Get the ChurchLeaders Daily Sent to Your Inbox