Guest Post by Bobby Cooley

Last week I got the amazing opportunity to meet a bunch of great youth workers from all over the country at the Dallas Youth Pastors Summit. I love meeting guys and girls in the trenches doing youth ministry and doing it well.

It’s so refreshing knowing were not alone. I’m not the only one running into the lives of teenagers. I have friends.

While talking with many of them one of the FIRST things they would share is the size of their ministry. Their weekly attendance numbers often came up early in the introductions.

There were three types of introductions…

  1. “Were a small church, we ONLY have about 10-50 students.”
  2. “We’ve got a big youth staff, but we ONLY a couple hundred students.”
  3. “Youth ministry is new in our church, we ONLY have one kid and he’s the pastor’s son.”

Ok, that last one was just one guy at a church plant. The other two were very common as I met youth worker after youth worker.

Not to bash these youth workers, I asked about their ministry and expected a response. A response about health and about how they are impacting this generation.

THE REALITY: We care about numbers.

Its ok to care about numbers. I recently heard at a conference, “What gets measured, gets done.” And it’s TRUE. We have to measure our ministry using tangible scales.

A number that should shock us all as youth workers is that, according to Fuller Seminary, 40 to 50 percent of kids who are connected to a youth group when the graduate high school will fail to stick with their faith in college.


Walk away from the church and their faith.

 This is a number we should focus on, a number that should change us. A number that should challenge us to ask the questions WHY?

Instead of thinking about HOW MANY students are in your ministry. What if we thought about the percentages.

  • What percentage of your students are really being discipled?
  • What percentage of your students feel like they belong to your church not just your youth group.
  • What percentage of your students are serving?
  • What percentage of your students are biblically literate?
  • What percentage of your students understand their calling?
  • What percentage of your students will stick with their faith after graduation.

We may not be able to get that 40-50% down to 0% but I want to do everything in the world to get it down to 30% or even 25%.

The beauty of percentages is that it no longer separates big churches and small churches but instead it connects us all to the target on the wall, the focus, the main point.

Building lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.

When you think in terms of percentages It forces us to stop measuring the success of our ministries with the total numbers attending.

What are your percentages?

If you are serving in a small church, do not be discouraged because you ONLY have 10-15 students. Be encouraged, and take serious your calling and focus on your percentages.

If you are serving in a huge church and ONLY have a couple hundred students. BE encouraged and challenged and take serious your calling and focus on your percentages.

We can easily use these percentages to check the health of your youth ministry.


  1. Print out your roster of students or make a list
  2. Grade each student on a scale of 1-4
    1. 1 = A student who shows up once or twice a year (not connected)
    2. 4 = A student who is in your core group, they are plugged in and GET IT!
  3. Do the math. Evaluate honestly.
    1. What percentage of your youth group is a 4?
    2. What percentage of your youth group is a 3? What are some things you can do to get them to a 4?
  4. Repeat looking specifically at different elements of your ministry with each student.
    1. Discipleship?
    2. Serving?
    3. Equipped?
    4. Biblically literate?
  5. Obviously, you can go very complex or simple when looking at these percentages, but at your next meeting id challenge you to bring up your percentages with your team and really discuss them.

An honest evaluation of the numbers can spark change and make you better for your students. They deserve your best.