Tag Archives: student ministry

Come Again?

I’ve noticed a recent flood of student ministry events happening around the area recently aimed at drawing a big crowd. That isn’t surprising. Usually toward the beginning of every school year student ministers are trying to pump up attendance. Start big that way the end of the semester dwindle is less painful.

This isn’t a post against programs that are aimed at bringing people in. I think those programs are needed and necessary. Some students wouldn’t think twice about darkening the door of your church unless you had a DJ or local celeb or messy games blowout. These things may even draw back those students who were active last year but you never saw from June through August.

When talking with people about these type of events they are well aware of their aim. Draw people in. Hope some of them stick. Say your event draws in 100 new faces (for the sake of simple math). What would you consider to be a successful return rate? 10? 20? 25? So, if 25% of those that come for the first time return that would be great. A chunk of those students could get plugged into small groups and begin to develop deep relationships aimed at Christ.

The question that kept nagging at me last night as I was trying to get some sleep was, “What about the other 75%?”. I know that drawing in the 25% is worth celebrating, but have we done anything for the 75% to change their mind about church? What does giving away iPads/money/etc say about the desire (envy) for more stuff? Does it do anything to offer an alternative to the insatiable beast that our consumer culture creates? Sure, you may have an easily digestible message about the fulfillment Christ can bring, but everything else we’ve done up to that point has pointed to the contrary.

So, what about the other 75%? Do we write them off? Focus on the 25%? I don’t have an easy answer. I still struggle with these things. What are your thoughts, whether student or adult ministry? How do you handle that tension?

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Celebrating the Past :: Moving Toward the Future


I recently returned from a trip to San Francisco with the above group.  The group is comprised of, mostly, recently graduated seniors from the youth group at Arborlawn UMC.  We do a trip like this every year as an end of the year/farewell to our seniors who have served in many different capacities.  We have a leadership program that we base a good deal of our programming around at Arborlawn that helps lead our students into service in the church in the hopes that when they go off to college they have a better sense of how to be a part of a church instead of simply being a religious consumer.  They serve in a variety of capacities from helping with all ages of Sunday School classes to volunteering in the church office.

The trip is a big “thank you” to them as well as a time to remember the past and look toward the future.  I always have mixed emotions on these trips.  I really enjoy spending time with these students that I have grown closer and closer to over the years; but I also know that, come fall, they will be off to college and no longer be a regular part of our program.  I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know each and every person on this trip.  I’m thankful for the lives of other students that they have invested in as they grew through the program and I am excited for what the future holds for them.  God’s kingdom is definitely enriched by the lives of those willing to selflessly serve and willing to pour into the lives of others and these students are a testament to that.

How do you make space for the students or people in your ministry to pour back into the lives of the people that come after them?  How have you been training up leaders?

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