Is Student Ministry Dying?

Just a few years ago, I was part of a thriving student ministry that was reaching between 120-160 kids every Wednesday night. Now, that same ministry averages around 25 middle and high school students. What’s changed? For one, our student pastor who was leading the ministry transitioned into a very successful campus pastor. Also, in the three years since then, we’ve gone through two student pastors, with myself being the third. Oh, and we stopped running church vans because of lack of volunteers and safety concerns. That’s what has happened within the church, but what’s happening outside of the church seems just as drastic.

  1. More Practices. Sunday and Wednesday evenings used to be designated church nights that were protected for the most part. That’s no longer the case. Sports and extracurricular activities are now invading that space.
  2. More Homework. The pressure for good grades and higher test scores has never been more prevalent. It’s not unheard of anymore for students to have one to two hours of homework each night.
  3. More Social Media. It used to be that if you wanted to hang out with your friends, you actually had to be in the same room. That’s no longer the case. Instagram and SnapChat provide plenty of community for kids who used to have to go outside to find it.
  4. More Jobs. Parents in small rural communities are financially strapped. It’s very hard for them to pay for their teen’s cell phone, insurance, and vehicle. This means more and more students have to find jobs that don’t always work around their church schedule.
  5. More Freedom. It wasn’t that long ago most Christian parents made their teens go to church. As busy as parents are these days and as much as they’re already running their kids from place to place, church has become much more of an option instead of a requirement.

So, how long will student ministry as we currently know it survive? Five years? Ten? Twenty? And is it being effective?

If not, is there a better way to do student ministry? Perhaps, something that’s led by students and works around their schedules. Maybe something online? Or is student ministry even necessary?

I’d love to hear your thoughts because this is something I’m wrestling with and honestly don’t have any answers. Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and if you enjoy the blog, make sure to subscribe to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

4 Phrases Every Pastor Should Say Every Sunday

There’s something powerful about repetition. Doing the same thing day in and day out. Over time habits start to form, and those habits play a big role in our lives. If you have good habits, your life tends to go well. If you have bad habits, your life tends to fall apart. In the same way that our lives have habits, your church has habits as well. Sometimes those are good, and unfortunately sometimes those are bad. If the church has good habits, things tend to go well. If the church has bad habits, things tend to fall apart.

When the church I serve was just getting started, it had a lot of bad habits.

We would never get started on time, we let anyone have the floor to speak or sing, and we had monthly business meetings. Yikes!

It took years for us to get out of these, and we lost some people along the way.

You know as well as I do that bad habits are hard to break.

Eventually, we started to develop some good habits in a lot of different areas of our church, but I want to focus on just a few that you can start implementing this week as the pastor.

(If you’re reading this and you’re not the primary communicator at your church, make sure to share this with your pastor. They will appreciate your initiative and your make it better attitude. Who knows? You may even get a raise. Of course, they may not be ready for this just yet, and this could land you in the doghouse. Risk it anyway.)

The habit I want to talk about today is using these four phrases every time you preach.

  1. “If you’re here for the first time…”

Even if you know every person in the room, act like there’s a possibility that someone is visiting for the very first time. Why? Because this communicates that you’re expecting guests to show up, which also communicates that you’re expecting your congregation to be inviting people. Welcome guests to church like you would welcome them into your home.

  1. “Our church exists to…”

Our pastor would say, “Our church exists to share the love of Jesus with everyone, so everyone will fall in love with Him.” We call this our mission statement, and we want everyone who attends our church to join the mission with us. By saying this, you’re letting everyone know what your church is about and how he or she can be a part of it.

  1. “Your next step is…”

Every sermon you preach should end with a next step that you want people to take. If you can’t think of a next step for your sermon, then you need to really ask yourself what’s the point of it. God’s Word should lead us to action. We want people to apply it to their lives. A weekly next step is the most practical way to do this.

  1. “Thank you for…”

You may say this several different times on a Sunday. I want to thank people for giving. I want to thank those who serve. I want to thank those who are visiting for the very first time. I don’t think you can say thank you enough. We couldn’t do what we do without the people we get to serve. Make sure to thank them.

Now, just remember it’s not enough to just do this one Sunday out of the month. You need to make it a habit to use these four phrases every time you speak.

Why?

Because most people aren’t attending church every week, and it takes most people several times of hearing something before they will remember it. So, say it, and then say it again, and again, and again.

Are you currently using these four phrases? Why or why not? What would you add to the list? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

A Simple Social Media Strategy

A quick confession before we get started, social media isn’t an area my church excels in. We know what we should be doing, but we don’t post nearly as often as we need to. It seems to be one of the first things that gets dropped when we’re busy trying to keep everything else going. We’re going to get better at it this year, but we’re not there yet. I’m willing to bet there are a few of those areas in your church as well.

The most frustrating thing about the whole situation is it’s not difficult.

Not in the least.

And if we were able to put a simple social media strategy in place, like the one I’m about to give you, there’s no doubt we would see some positive things happen in our church.

Here’s how we would do it. We would make sure anything we post falls into one of these three categories.

  1. Promotion – We would want to promote church services, events, and next steps. Facebook is the greatest advertising tool available to us. We’d be crazy not to be using it to promote our church. Plus, it’s free! I’m betting the majority of your congregation and community is using it. So, make sure they know your church exists. Just don’t over do it. People tend to get annoyed by people and organizations that over promote. If that’s all you’re doing on social media, don’t be surprised if people start tuning you out.
  2. Engagement –Facebook is meant for engagement. It was designed to be a conversation, and the changes Facebook has been making are rewarding for those who do this well. You want to make sure you get likes, comments, and shares. Pictures are great for this; video is even better. The more engagement you can create, the more people will see your promotions.
  3. Equipping – Social media gives us the opportunity to resource and encourage not only those who attend our church, but those in our communities and throughout the world. It’s never been easier to spread the gospel message. You can post sermons, devotionals, scriptures, and all kinds of other things that add value to your audience and grow them closer to Jesus.

So if I was starting today and I just wanted to keep it simple, I’d post once a day, seven days a week. Two promotional posts, two equipping posts, and three engagement posts each week.

Now, I know there are a lot more dynamics that can go into this, but remember we’re keeping it simple. And hopefully by keeping it simple, it will keep us consistent. (Fingers Crossed)

Do you have a social media strategy? Why or why not? Let us know about it by leaving a comment below, and if you enjoy the blog make sure to subscribe so you can get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.