Passion Will Turn Your Youth Ministry Around

This is part two in the series 9 Dynamic Ways To Revive Your Youth Ministry, you can start here to catch up

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Fl. shooting, the students of  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are making their voices heard. They’re planning on marching on Washington and are making powerful speeches to powerful people. 

Regardless of your stance on gun control, these kids have suffered loss and they are pissed off at those who do nothing. In their mind (and most Americans) it is unimaginable that 17 of their friends can die, and there is still resistance to changing gun laws, but they are taking that energy, that sadness, that love, and that passion and putting it to work. I applaud them.

As youth workers, we may ask, “how come our kids are not this passionate about the gospel” That’s an unfair comparison. These kids are responding to a tragedy that changed the face of their schools and community. They have been personally impacted by this and feel the loss very deeply. They are not unlike the prophets of old who saw the injustices of Israel and cried out with passionate voices to repent, turn away return to God.

As leaders, we need to find out what or kids are passionate about and find a way for them to release that passion. We need undergird their passions and help infuse it into our ministries.

If one of our kids were outspoken against abortion, we should tap that energy and give that kid a platform, money, time, whatever they need to make a difference. I am not saying we allow one issue to take over our group, but there  needs to be time to let kids speak out on what is important to them,

Do you know what is not important to them? Another sermon, another meeting, or another game night. The tide has shifted from meetings to movements. If we’re still trying to plan good meetings, we are falling behind and our kid are over it.

As leaders we need to decide what we’re passionate about. Youth workers are paid to be passionate about their meetings. We are judged on their size and their conversion rate. She churches don’t even care about the latter as long as the former is present.

We are the church, and as leaders of young people, we ought to live out our passions in front of them. I speak about my passion for those who are bullied, for those who are marginalized, for kids who do not fit our outdated church model. They know I am passionate about people finding the Lord because eternity can sneak up on us and time for some is short. I ask them to share my passion, and the passion of Jesus for a lost world.

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks. – Yo-Yo Ma

If we want our students to live out their passion, we need to create a path for them to do so. If want our students to become passionate, they need to see me passionate and I need to invite them into it and experience it for themselves.  This is why I have a heart to take kids on missions trips. I want their world to expand. I want them to see how God is moving in other countries and how God can move through them when they are in uncomfortable surroundings.

Kids are not passionate about a meeting where they sit and listen for 30 minutes about what they should do and how they should live, They want to do the stuff Jesus did and it’s our job to put them in a position to do it.

Sermons won’t do it, meetings won’t do it, and good theology alone won’t grow your youth ministry, only passionate hearts in love with Jesus will do that.

How are you helping kids find that passion and connect it to the gospel?

What ways are you creating ways for kids to develop and release that passion?

Part Three: Reinvigorate Your Youth Ministry With A Clear and Compelling Vision


How To Double Your Youth Group Attendance In One Year

If you are planning on on being at your church for only a year, then doubling it should be easy, but you have to hurry.

Throw lot’s of party’s and events.

Games, more games,  and game nights.

Keep your messages to ten minutes tops.

Do not challenge anyone to serve or lead.

Give away lots of expensive stuff.

Crank up the hype machine.

Don’t mention the cross or following Jesus.

Don’t talk about giving, sacrifice, or surrender.

Have a hot band with shallow worship songs and a worship leader that just wants to be seen.

Make sure you take lots of selfies with the latest whatever and whoever.

At the end of the year, thank them for showing up to all the cool stuff and avoiding Sunday school, Small Group, prayer times, revivals and anything that remotely looks like commitment.

Pack your car and head out.

Sarcastic rant ended.

Granted, a youth group can double in a year minus some of these tactics. Demographics, church culture, and honest moves of God can all play a part, but why the rush to grow?

You want the real secret to growing your youth ministry?

You ready? Here it is. Patience.

If you’re planning on being at your your church for more than three years you have plenty of time to grow numerically. Until then do this

Love kids.

Show up to their stuff.

Build a foundation of identity and community.

Build a reputation of reliability, faithfulness, and godliness.

Serve the whole church.

Teach and preach scripture with passion.

Love and serve families.

Call kids to follow Jesus, not you.

Encourage small groups and small encounters.

Make Jesus the focus of your worship.


Love kids.

Everything else is a tactic.

Want to draw a crowd? Tactics will do.

Want to make disciples? Patience is the key.

Watch me break it down  below

7 Questions You Must Answer Before Your Youth Ministry Will Grow

 7 Question Grow

Seth Godin’s post give 7 questions anyone should follow if they are interested in reaching the people in their neighborhood. Some people want to reach people in  their neighborhood with a product, a promotion, an event, or a service. I and my youth ministry want to reach kids in our neighborhood with the gospel of Jesus Christ (my guess is yours does too) and in order to do that I have to be honest about these 7 questions.

Every marketing challenge revolves around these questions

WHO are you trying to reach? (If the answer is ‘everyone’, start over.)

In our case, we look at attracting middle class kids in High School and have been successful. I don’t know if it’s as intentional as we’d like it to be but that is what the programming is attracting so we stick with it. In the spring we divided up and sought to draw middle school students with  separate program and it got mixed results so we’ll be more intentional in the fall. Considering we have a bunch of students who are home schooled we are doing better than average.

HOW will they become aware of what you have to offer?

We use Instagram and FB quite a bit. Not a lot of Twitter users in our group. We have some students who are good at posting and sharing their youth ministry experiences and that’s a plus.

I will be volunteering this year at our High School to simply be a presence not necessarily to promote  but I’m sure conversations may lead to that.

I take a lot of video of our YM and share it often.

I engage with my students on Social Media and their friends see that.

WHAT story are you telling/living/spreading?

The main story: God loves you and is calling you to know Him through His Son Jesus Christ. In Christ there is peace, joy, love, hope, and purpose.

The sub-plot: You have God Given gifts, abilities and talents, us them to give others a a peek  at God’s kingdom here on earth.

DOES that story resonate with the worldview these people already have? (What do they believe? What do they want?)

Yes. Most, if not all, people want to know why they are walking around on planet earth and no one more so than the American teenager. Most people in our town want to find hope when they’re desperate, love when they feel cold. and kindness when they feel mistreated. All of these are found in a community called The Church.

WHERE is the fear that prevents action?

My fear is the fear of standing alone with my dream. That if I take the lead into uncharted territory no one will follow, save God.

WHEN do you expect people to take action? If the answer is ‘now’, what keeps people from saying, ‘later’?

We don’t program a ton. We keep things pretty simple. We ask kids to come to what they are available for and not to everything all at once.

I keep things relevant but biblical.

I don’t try to be everyone’s friend so I can be their Pastor.

I keep thing moving along. Boredom = Death.

WHY? What will these people tell their friends?

We believe kids don’t just listen to sermons we believe they can experience God in every service. Thankfully no one is going around bragging on my sermon but they are going around bragging on how they felt loved and how God touched their hearts.

Here’s a sample: This student posted about her one year anniversary with us

So around this time last year Jenny (name change) invited me to come to her church because she was leading worship that night, and I didn’t want to miss service at the church I was going to but I thought “it’s just one night, what the heck” so I went for that one night and haven’t missed a service since then! This year was one of the hardest years yet but this youth group has been there for me and supported me through it all and have become my family. At this church I have made many lifelong friendships and seen God move more than ever before and I am so blessed to be a part of such an amazing youth group! I love you all and I look forward to many more years with you guys!

Nothing about how I made her feel but everything about how the group made her feel and what God has done and is doing in her life #Winning.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I have to ask these questions, pray hard, get wisdom, make hard choices and execute on what I think the right move is. Comments like the one above is a combinations of hard work and God’s grace (with emphasis on the latter).

The good news for you is that comments like these are waiting (if you haven’t gotten them already)  to be posted about your youth ministry and the work God is doing in you and through you and your kids.

Need help answering these questions? Feel free to leave your questions below or click here to check out my Real Time Coaching Package to go deeper.

Your Turn

Which question is hardest for you to answer? Easiest?

Which question is hardest to execute on?

Other Resources About Story

A good article from Youth Specialties on the Power of Story

Your Youth Meeting Is Another Opportunity To Tell A Great Story

The Story That Wins

What’s Your Story?