Hey Youth Leaders,
It has been a busy month or so since I put out my initial blog asking for topics to chat about. I am by no means an expert on every topic, but I feel we do need to start to share with each other.
I did get a few responses from my last blog and I thought I would start with "How do you measure success in Youth Ministry?"
This is a question I have thought about for most of my first years in youth ministry. Measuring success in a high school youth ministry or any ministry for that matter, is tough. When I first started in youth ministry I was all about the numbers, but I soon realized that it was futile to assess your ministry based on numbers. Attendance, as most of your know, waxes and wanes over the season and from year to year. During my 25 years in ministry there were years where we had over 60 students attending regularly and some years there were 7 students regularly. These are two totally different youth groups and each were successful on their own. The group of 7 students was a result of a dip in the number of kids born to the members of our church those two years.
I am a firm believer that youth ministry is about relationships; strong relationships between students, leaders, and mentors are vital in this ministry. Students should be developing healthy peer friendships within the group, but also have an older adult as a mentor supporting them in their spiritual journey. Having these relationship builds on the sense of belonging they and we all need and want.
Although I am not always a big fan of sending out surveys (mostly because some students find it difficult to put in words what they are experiencing), I do think that it is important to get feedback from students, parents, and volunteers, or in one-on-one conversations. I have often taken youth out for coffee and asked for their input on what is working well and what could be improved. Their perspectives can provide insight into the impact and effectiveness of the ministry. Regular youth leader meetings are a great way to connect and get feedback, and to redirect if needed.
I think that it isn't until a few years after they are through youth ministry that you see the success of the ministry. There is growth and understanding in their relationship with God, they get involved with their church community, they commit their lives to following Christ. For me it was always a blessing to witness youth do profession of faith and mention the faith formation events they attend in youth group as one of the formative times of their faith journey.
Hopefully this is a helpful response to the question.
Blessings to all of you as you lead and bless your youth.