Growing a student ministry is hard work. We had a saying on my team when I coached football, “Hard Work, Pays Off.” Figuring out scheduling, contact work, and then programming is all in a days work. However, dealing with a student ministry that has reached a plateau means giving a little bit extra and looking for new students. There are three big areas for you to be tapping into in order to break a plateau and establish a sustained growth.
- Childrens Ministry – in a few years the children attending your churches children ministry will be attending your students ministry. Building a relationship with your children’s pastor is crucial to a success student ministry. Support them by finding ways to serve them, including sending some proficient students to volunteer. Develop a rapport with parents here in children’s ministry to earn their support later in their child’s life. Invest some student resources (not merely financial) into the kids in fifth and sixth grade. This may mean sending some volunteers into these age groups to build connections and relationships in order to boost growth in student ministry for years to come.
- In the church – recently I asked for some statistics for the number of students attending our church as a whole. Quickly I realized that even in our church there was a substantial amount of students not regularly attending our student ministry. This changed my view on needing to go out and contact new students. New students weren’t on the streets or in the schools, they were not the “unchurched.” They were here, attending our church, we just needed to get them plugged in. So how do we get them in? Communication. We are changing how to table, leveraging some of the more extroverted students to be greeters, being more vocal in church news and evaluating and shifting how we promote events. Beginning to have conversations about how our church communicates the value of not only student ministry, but all of family ministry. This can be touchy, but worthy, conversation with your supervising pastor to figure out how best to approach this. Whether it is a message on service, or announcements to promote student ministry, big church can help grow student ministry.
- In the community – building a presence in your community is huge. Old school contact work. Are you networking with schools in your area? Meet with administrators, ask how you can serve your them, the students, teachers and community. Go where students are. Recently we took some leaders and went to tailgate at a high school football game. We met tons of students. It was awesome. Ask yourself where kids are in your community and then figure out why are you not there. Fix that. Find ways to leverage your students already attending and their friends. There is power in creating an inviting atmosphere and a place where students want to bring their friends. Don’t just beg them to bring friends, I feel that is groveling and doesn’t communicate the invitation of the Gospel, just numbers. Instill in them a kingdom vision and their role of impacting His kingdom.
Maybe you’re stuck in a rut or attendance has reached a plateau. Find some things to go after with everything you have. Remember to breathe. God has given you students to invest in, the harvest is there. Sick ‘Em