Awhile back, I had the opportunity to hang out with amazing youth leaders at a Download Youth Ministry conference. The event featured games, teaching sessions, discussions, fun prizes, and even arm wrestling. We also heard some youth ministry statistics that seem scary yet offer profound hope.
Heather Flies spoke about middle school, empathy, and how we relate to teenagers. Marko unpacked ideas on effectively ministering to LGBTQ teenagers. Then Walt Mueller laid out what we’re up against in reaching this generation of post-Christian teens. As challenging as it was, we needed to hear about this epic battle for Generation Z’s hearts, souls, and minds.
On the final day, Doug Fields did a Q&A session with all the speakers. By the time my turn arrived, I was nervous about which question I’d receive. Programming a youth group game night isn’t my cup of tea.
As I was praying for the right question and answer, a youth leader said something like this. “I was in Walt’s small group. We’ve been talking about staggering youth ministry statistics regarding the next generation’s spiritual condition. It’s been eye-opening and kind of discouraging to see what we’re up against. Should youth leaders be afraid?”
This church leader articulated, I believe, what many of us feel deep inside. As we realize what we’re up against to reach this next generation, it can be overwhelming, discouraging, and even debilitating.
Praise be to God that Walt set up the challenges we’re facing! Praise be to God for giving me the right words in that moment to encourage youth leaders. May they encourage you as well.
Youth Ministry Statistics: From Fear to Hope
My response went something like this:
“Don’t be afraid! You have everything you need for life and godliness. And so do your teens! God has given you the Holy Scriptures, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit!
“Through prayer we have the power of the divine Trinity at our disposal! Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’ Jesus will build his church through you and through your teenagers. Jesus will not be stopped. His church will triumph! It’s not us who doesn’t stand a chance. It’s Satan!
“God does his best work in the blackest of backdrops. His light shines brightest in the dark! This is true of every spiritual awakening. Maybe the darkness of this current culture means that God is about to unleash a spiritual movement of historic proportions. I believe God is about to do just that!