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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.