You have to make a lot of choices when you are leading a ministry. There are a lot of decisions that need a solid answer. It needs to be one way or the other. I get it. But I think sometimes as youth workers we get into this mindset for everything we do:

It’s either this way or that way.

No, it isn’t.

I was on the Download Youth Ministry Community Facebook Page (which if you have not joined it yet, you should), and there was a post where someone wanted to talk with someone with a bigger group to see what things they are doing to help with growth. Some people said some thoughts on how to grow and reach more students. Yes, that is great. Others chimed in saying something like, “Focus on discipleship and the ones that are there.” Yes, also right.

So what is it? Which one do we do? Do we focus on outreach, getting “more butts in seats”? Or do you pour into the ones that are already coming and only focus on them? It’s either evangelism or discipleship.

This is where I believe “either/or” doesn’t have a place.

This is where “both/and” thinking and leadership needs to be set in place.

Why do we need to choose? We NEED to focus on both. As leaders, it is our job to think about the students we have coming weekly to our church AND it is our job to think about the ones who are not coming. We need to live in a constant tension of engaging the non-believer, but challenging the believer to grow.

As leaders, it’s our burden to think about the kids who show up, but it’s also our burden to think about the ones who don’t. Attendance is not the factor, but it is a factor of growth. We can grow the ones we have while trying to reach the ones we don’t.

It needs to be a BOTH/AND situation, not an EITHER/OR.

To expand and give you a little insight into my ministry, do we want attendance to go up? I would be lying if I told you we didn’t. If we are all honest, we all want growth. For me, it’s not our program numbers I am concerned about overall. I look at our small group numbers. If they are in a small group, they are growing, being discipled and serving. But, if we get more on Wednesdays, that means we have more students to get plugged into a small group. When the ones who are in a group are growing in Christ, they realize it’s their burden to reach their lost friends for Jesus, so they bring them to Wednesdays in hopes that they too would join a small group.

They go hand in hand. It’s not EITHER focus on service attendance OR focus on discipleship. It’s BOTH a focus on evangelism AND a focus on growing the students in groups.

The moment we realize this is the moment we don’t have to worry about the tension of the “it’s all about the numbers” or “focus on the ones who are there” conversation anymore.

Get away from the “either/or” mentality and begin to look at how your group can have a “both/and” mentality. Both are equally important. Both are things we are to be doing as leaders.