We’re finding inspiration for blog posts in interesting search terms people have used to find this blog. It strikes me how many times you feel a story behind a search term, a deep underlying emotion. Today’s topic is another example of this: my youth ministry isn’t growing.

My youth ministry isn’t growing. If someone would tell me that, my first response would be: how does that make you feel? Because I feel a world of emotions behind this simple search term.

Disappointment, because God isn’t blessing the youth ministry the way you had hoped.

Anger, because you’ve given it your all and it just isn’t enough.

Frustration, because you’re doing the best you can under almost impossible situations and nobody is helping you.

Self-doubt, because you’ve tried everything you can think of and nothing seems to work…so maybe it’s you.

Fear, because this lack of success might just cost you your job.

These emotions are all understandable and completely valid. Let’s face it: none of us go into youth ministry because we want things to stay the same. We want to change the world, make a difference and above all, we want growth. It’s only natural and logical and spiritual for youth ministries to grow…right?


Everything that’s planted is supposed to grow. So yeah, your youth ministry is supposed to grow. But that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily to blame if it doesn’t grow. Let’s look at a few questions you should ask yourself about why your youth ministry isn’t growing:

1. Is it growing in depth?

Your youth ministry may not be growing in numbers, but if it’s still growing in depth that’s actually something to be very grateful for. Numbers don’t mean anything if you’re only making converts and not disciples. Focusing on depth is always the best choice, because real discipleship ultimately will always lead to numerical growth.

2. Do you have a vision for growth?

Your youth ministry will more probably not grow spontaneously. You’ll need a vision and a plan to actually realize growth. Do you have one and is it God-inspired? I’m not talking about following all the latest trends and hypes, that’s not gonna bring you anything. I’m talking a bout a God-given, unique strategic plan that completely first the circumstances of your youth ministry and speaks to the needs of young people in your community.

3. Is your plan still up to date?

You may have had a vision and a plan once upon a time, but is it still effective and up to date? I left my last church just around the time I felt we needed to update our vision and plan for growth (BTW that wasn’t why I left – we moved to Germany ’cause my husband got a job there). We had one, but many things had happened that had changed our circumstances and we needed a new plan to reflect these changes.

4. Is there a shared vision for growth?

You cannot make a youth ministry grow all by your lonesome self. You need a team of dedicated leaders and volunteers who share your vision. If they don’t, that’s a good place to start to make some improvements.

5. Is the church leadership supportive?

It’s one thing to lay down certain expectations of growth, but if the leadership of your church doesn’t support you in any way, growth is not gonna happen. They need to not just ask it from you, they need to actively support it, facilitate it and share your vision for how to get there. If they don’t, invest a lot of time in building relationships here and getting your vision across.

6. Are there circumstances that prohibit growth?

There may be circumstances outside your influence that still negatively affect your opportunity for growth. In my last church for instance, there was a big conflict between the pastors that affected the church and the youth ministry. We lost a lot of young people because of that and there wasn’t much I could do about it. If that’s you, then just keep praying for God to solve the issues and trust Him to take care of it.

7. Is there prayer support?

I should have put this on number one, because it’s by far the most important aspect of a growing youth ministry. You cannot do anything without a dedicated prayer support behind you and your ministry. You need people who pray for you daily, with passion and with the conviction that God is going to answer. If you don’t have prayer warriors like these, go find them first.

And when all it’s said and done, remember that God is still the sovereign God. He will give His blessing according to His will and plans and for reasons we cannot comprehend, He may choose to make your youth ministry go through some rough waters. But do not give up, hang in there. God is faithful and He will keep His promises.

As Keith Green said it so beautifully: just keep doing your best, pray that it’s blessed and He’ll take care of the rest.

Have you had periods where your youth ministry didn’t grow? How did this make you feel? Were you able to find a reason for this?