We have to choose a lot of things when you are leading a ministry. There are a lot of decisions in which 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 doesn’t.
Yesterday 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 in which brought up someone wanting 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? It’s either we focus on outreach getting “more butts in seats” or do you pour into the ones that are coming and only focus on them? It’s either evangelism or discipleship.
This is where I personally 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? I feel like 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 the leader, it’s our burden to think about the kids who show up but it also our burden to think about the ones that don’t. Attendance is not THE factor, but it is A factor of growth. We can grow the ones we have while trying to plan on how 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 in my ministry, do we want attendance to go up? I would be lying if I told you it didn’t. If we are all honest, we all want that. 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 focus on making Wednesday’s a place to be, the more students on Wednesday’s means 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 Wednesday’s 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 we are going to BOTH focus on evangelism AND focus on growing the ones in groups. The moment we realize this is the moment we don’t have to worry about bringing up they are focusing on “it’s all about the numbers” or “focus on the ones who are their” 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 or both are things we are to be doing as leaders.