Our youth ministry took another blow this week. Word trickled back to me that one of our families with young teens has found another church “where there are more kids.” I’ve been here 4 years this month, and this is at least the fourth time this has happened. We have never had more than a half-dozen kids at any one time, and they didn’t all come at the same time, so we’re struggling with how a small church creates a youth ministry.
I don’t blame parents with teens for wanting their kids to be in a dynamic youth group. Debbie and I met at our church youth group when we were young teens. We didn’t attend a huge church, but our youth group had about 20-25 regulars. Several high school were represented in the group, so church was a place where we saw kids we didn’t see at school. Out of our youth group several of us made commitments to full-time vocational ministry. So, I understand the importance and impact of youth ministry on the lives of kids.
One of the realities of small church is you can’t be all things to all people. There are some needs we can’t meet. Right now, youth ministry is one of those. But, we don’t quit trying. This Sunday we honor our high school graduates — both of them. But, for the two kids graduating, this is a big deal to them, and we’re delighted to share in this significant milestone.
While we can’t compete with larger churches, we can still care for the families and kids we have. That’s our role right now, as we dream of ways to reach families with teens in the future. How about your youth ministry? Do you face the same challenges, and if so, how are you addressing them? I’m sure many small-church pastors and leaders would like to hear your story.