When I started in Youth Ministry 16 years ago, I had a really big aversion to counting the number of heads in the room. Some of that involved my senior pastor calling me into his office every Monday morning. When I was just starting out, I envisioned doing devotionals with my pastor. Maybe we would spend time praying for each other and our church congregation.

But that wasn’t ever the reason for the Monday morning meeting. He wanted to know how many students I had on Sunday morning. 

I dreaded that meeting because I didn’t enjoy letting him know how many bodies were in the room.

The amount of students I had didn’t speak to how many of them were reading their Bible throughout the week! Or how many of them had shared Jesus with a friend. Or how many of them were beginning to pray And begin their own spiritual journeys!

But I kept on going to those Monday morning meetings and telling my senior pastor how many kids had showed up. 

Maybe you’ve got a similar aversion to talking about numbers in your youth group. You don’t wanna brag about how many kids are coming or, just as likely, maybe your number of regular students seems pretty low when you compare it to the church down the street or the really active youth group on Instagram.

I would agree with my younger and much less mature self. The number of students inside the building doesn’t say how spiritually mature they are, or whether or not, they are actually doing something with their faith beyond youth group programming.

But do play a role in helping you Assess some parts of your Youth Ministry.

And can even be a small part of determining health in your ministry.

Let’s look at a couple ways numbers can actually help you out.

Percentage of your church that’s student ministry

Let’s say you have a student ministry of 20 kids. But you have a regular church attendance of 150 in your church. You have a little over 13% of your church attending student ministry. A stat that gets thrown around that comes from Tony Morgan is that a healthy church should have about 10% of regular church attendance (that’s adults, kids, and students all combined). It holds water. It’s USUALLY a good stat. But take into context a few things: Is your church primarily young families or all retirees? If so, your pool of students may be low. Give yourself some grace. If your church is LOTS of middle-aged families with teens, but you’re just running 8% of the attendance, there may be something you need to look into.

Decrease or Increase Year Over Year

Again, let’s say you have a youth group of 20 kids. And you’ve had 20 kids on average for the last two years. If, during the spring, your weekly average drops to 15 and stays there for a couple months, it’s time to see what’s going on. If it doesn’t jump back up in the fall, when students normally dial back into involvement, you REALLY need to ask what has changed and what needs to happen.

On the other hand, if you start averaging 25 or 30 and the church continues to run 150 to even 200, that’s a BIG reason to celebrate! Be excited and ask for a bigger pizza budget.

Hey, we can all dream.

Volunteer to Student Ratio

For you personally, it’s good to have a team around you. It will increase your longevity, your joy, and your ministry!

Do you have one leader for every ten students? In your youth group of 20, that’s you PLUS one volunteer. I would encourage you to get some help! Having at least two to four OTHER volunteers in your ministry is such a good idea. It helps your accountability, allows people to have life come at them, and does not rock the ministry. I would encourage you to keep getting volunteers until you have at

Students Attending vs Students on the Role

I grew up Southern Baptist. We were BIG on keeping people on the “role,” meaning the list of students who have visited the church, attended at any time, or lived close to the church.

It could get out of hand, honestly.

We had students on the role who had attended VBS in 3rd grade and just got moved up each year, but really, they had no connection to the church. If you’ve got a role, clean it up and get it down to the students attending regularly or are at least really connected to your church.

Then, see how many of them are coming to the youth group! If it’s a healthy percentage, maybe 75% to 100%, awesome! Keep at it! If it’s less healthy, maybe 50% to 25%, it’s time to see what keeps those students away from the youth group.

Numbers are a resource. Not THE resource.

Really. Numbers can be helpful. If you use them well. Don’t get discouraged when numbers don’t match what you’ve hoped and prayed for. Use them as a tool to see what could change and what has worked in the past.

God gave you THESE students at THIS church for a reason. Lean into it! Learn your community and your church culture and reach who God has put in front of you!

You’ve got this!