Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The new numbers that matter

I didn't grow up in the church.

Like many teens who gravitated to a youth group, I followed a girl (who I didn’t end up getting!) and, over time, the message of Jesus became more important than the unrequited love.

Nonetheless, over the years it took for me to find my faith, there were some people who especially invested in my spiritual development. Some of these people were “on staff,” most weren’t.
Do you have similar people in your past?
Can you think of those who, especially, took the time and made the effort to engage with you and nurture your faith?

Classically, the golden ratio in ministry with young people is around 1:5 – one adult for every five kids.

But, progressively (from places like the Fuller Youth Institute), it’s being realised that the effective ratio in growing and, importantly, retaining young people within a church is 5:1 – five adults for every one youngster.

For children and teens need to feel that there’s a group of people caring and investing in them and their faith development, not just a select few.

Historically, it’s the smaller, heavily volunteer driven, churches who've been doing this effectively across the generations, not the flashy mega-churches.

It’s the churches which develop a culture of making space for the children, engaging with them in conversation, and supporting them as they explore who Jesus is, where the kids’ faith – long-term – is healthier.
The challenge for churches is to find ways, and develop an intentional culture, where adults can naturally find avenues to show young people that there's an entire village concerned about them.
For, the new number in effective long-term youth ministry seems to be as intricately linked with adults as it is to youth. If you don't have the tribe of adults - the five, then it's far less likely that you retain your youngsters - the one.
The person who said that it takes a village to raise a child may have been on to something far deeper than they're aware…

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