What is the end goal for your student ministry? Is it your service? Is it getting them plugged into small groups? Is it getting them serving in the church?
This is my second round here at CCV were I serve. The first round was great. I worked here for almost 4 years and we were able to get 400+ students here on a Wednesday night. That is pretty incredible. Right now, in my second round at CCV were I am leading our team, we have a little over half of that… and I couldn’t be happier.
Why? Because now we have small groups and 35% of students are in a community being discipled, before there were maybe 10%. Do we all want bigger numbers? Of course we do. We hear about it all of the time from the people we report to or whether it’s the voice in our heads. Why am I happier right now? Small groups are our end goal. I feel like my first round here, as awesome as high numbers are, Wednesday’s were our end game. Our success was based on how many students came. The extent of our discipleship was what they got on Wednesday. As big, fun, energetic as that is, it ended when they left. This year with the launch of our small groups Wednesday’s are now a means to an end; small groups being the end. We do Wednesday’s in hopes we can get students there so that they can get conneted into a small group through ROOTED. One of the best things about working at Saddleback HSM and overseeing their small group ministry was I saw what it was like to have more students in small groups than attended the weekend services.
The weekend/midweek services are great but if they are the end, we can gather as many as possible but it will not be as healthy as getting them into something else that will close that dreaded “back door” or ministry where they can allow Jesus to truly invade their lives and be transformed.
Do I still get caught up in the numbers game? Of course, we all do if we are honest. But I know now with 35% of students in groups our first year of groups (our goal next year is to get to 50%) and smaller attendance right now, we have a far healthier ministry than we once had. It’s a change of mindset of what is important. I still care about numbers, but the numbers that drive me are how many are in a small group community, with 1 or 2 adults pouring into them where they can study Scripture and allow Jesus to transform them all school year long. does this mean our midweek service suffers? Not at all. We will keep being a ministry in which attracts students who do not know Jesus to come be exposed to him during our midweek. We know that as we grow in our midweek, we will grow in our small groups because we have somehwere where we want them to go. They will feed each other.
The end game changed and I feel our ministry will grow because of it. It might not be the explosive growth we once saw, but it will be healthier growth. Healthy things grow.
So the question is, what is your end goal? What is a means to an end? What are your means? Do you have an end you want students to be? Why do you want them there? One of the worst things we can do as leaders is not know the answer to these questions. If you don’t have a clear answer, one of the best things you can do for your ministry is be clear in this area.