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Programming

Stephanie Caro's humorous, straightforward style keeps her busy presenting at conferences, training events, camps, mission trips, retreats, churches, etc. She is Senior Consultant for Ministry Architects and author of "Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches" and "99 Thoughts for the Smaller Church Youth Worker." Her next book, “Ten Solutions (to Ten Common Mistakes Small Churches Make)” comes out in 2015. Stephanie is a contributing author to several ministry resources in addition to her regular column “Smaller Church Youth Ministry” in Group Magazine. Stephanie and her husband, Steve, live in Houston, TX.

Critical mass in a small church youth group can be, well, critical. Sometimes. Who determines what a successful number in attendance is anyway?

Recently, after working with a church, I was driving back to my lodging and it occurred to me how often the people in that church said, “We only had…(then filled in the blank with the number of students or families who showed up). Their phrasing seemed like nothing measured up to the “good ol’ days.” It was depressing! I can only imagine what the students who ARE showing up there faithfully must think.

I wish they had experienced what I had with their students. When the youth showed up for their listening group, there were “only” three. And they were just the best! We had a great time. Seriously, I could have spent all afternoon with those three kids. As I walked them back to their parents, the four of us were laughing and doing Happy Potter impressions. Good times.

The moral of this story? Small churches: ELIMINATE the phrase, “we only had” from your conversations about the youth ministry. Yes, maybe your church was bigger in numbers and there “used to be” 35 kids in your church – 3 decades ago. Who counts now are the 3 terrific kids right in front of you. Just think of all the advantages:

1) You can remember all their names.

2) The whole group fits into your car.

3) You can fit into one booth at Applebees.

4) You’ve got the bandwidth to hit up each of their school events without stressing your schedule.

5) Funding raising for next summer’s mission trip won’t be nearly so hard.

I could go on and on…but you get the picture.

Stephanie

NO COMMENTS

  • KW says:

    Love having 3 or 4 youth. SONIC trip!!!

  • Jody says:

    It’s also really important to remember that on many ways you define success in your ministry. If you are always talking about numbers…well, others will too. People will see success over time how you as the leader define it.

  • smp says:

    I think this is a great reminder. I guess what I get caught up in sometimes is knowing the many who are in active families in the church who are not there… The questions of WHY they aren’t there, could you CHANGE something to be more inclusive so that more would come, are you running a program for YOU or the YOUTH, etc…? There is no harm in asking how you could make a program that reaches farther and includes more, especially if the kids are attending church but just not coming. However, that only goes so far because you have to remember, as this post reminds, that you can’t look for what is missing to the exclusion of what you have.

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