Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

How To Grow Your Youth Ministry To 100 Students

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“Need a youth pastor with vision to grow a youth group to over 100 engaged youth. Church in upper Midwest. If interested, contact me. Full time position.”

– Facebook Post

I read this and thought to myself, “This is ridiculous”. And many others in the group felt the same way and said so but after some thought, I asked myself, how many times did I wish my pastor shared his actual expectations.

Many pastors want their youth pastors to grow the youth group to a hundred but never tell their youth pastor. Pastors silently seethe that their youth pastor is not doing enough, is lazy or incompetent. So, let me offer what I appreciate about this short but specific job posting and said so on the post itself.

There is a goal

100 students. As one person said, this needs a timeline. I recommend five years. The first year is about the current students finding trust with the new youth pastor. The seconds year is about establishing the hows, How will we reach students, how will we disciple students, etc. The third year, barring any complications, is a breakout out year. The group grows significantly, maybe by 25%. Year four is about exponential growth. Something has to shift. Whatever has worked must be doubled down on. Year five, barring any complications, you could be pretty close. This, of course, has to be part of any job description. 

Engaged students is a good, specific term

Allow me to give my definition, “an engaged student is a student who has received the gospel and is pursuing Jesus” this needs some fine tuning but if engaged means everyone of these 100 students is attending your church, that, in my opinion, is a grasp. 

Keep in mind that the complications I mentioned earlier could involved economic downturn, scandal, lack of support from the congregation are just a few of the things that could happen. 

Now, what will be required on the Pastor’s part? 


Will this youth pastor constantly be reminded that they have only x amount of years/days left to achieve this goal? Not gonna work. The pastor will have to work with not against (seen it) their youth pastor to achieve an audacious goal. 

Pay this youth pastor $50,000 plus dollars with a $10,000 bonus if he hits the goal in x amount of time. Poor youth pastors are unmotivated youth pastors. 

Increased youth budget

Not including salary, insurance, etc, the youth budget should be about $2,500 a month. This gives plenty of room to be creative without stifling. Growth through bribery will not equal sustained growth so retreats and camps have to be a part of the calendar. 

Increased Staff

This youth pastor will need a dozen volunteers to start. So if you currently have 10 students, you should have 12 compliant volunteers on standby for when this youth pastor walks in the door ready to serve.

The amount of staff should be increased by 50% each year.

Pastor, if you’re not growing your church (and youth growth does not always equal church growth) then your youth pastor cannot grow the youth to 100, engaged students by himself. This also counts as a complication.


Praying God’s will not ours is critical. Does God want your youth group to grow to 100? I would say yes, if those students are

  • going to be received no matter who they are or where they come from,
  • going to be loved
  • going to be integrated into the life of the church

If I were God, I would not honor the prayers for growth of people who were not willing die to self or be unwilling to build the infrastructure to sustain it.

So many pastors will expect the youth pastor to pray and work but give them none of the other things on this list. Don’t treat them like the Israelites and have them try to make bricks without straw.

Yes, pray. It’s not just required, it’s expected.

Prepare your heart, mind and church

One reminder, an increase in cattle means an increase in 💩 (Proverbs 14:4).

Pastor, prepare the way for growth by

  • increasing the youth budget
  • increasing the youth room capacity
  • having specific job descriptions for the youth pastor and volunteers.
  • Building relationships across the city
  • prepare the church for new growth (New kids will be showing up, how will you receive them?)
  • preparing yourself for loss. There are those who will not agree with new vision or a new direction.

Without preparation, sustained growth is a fantasy.

Count the cost

If you’re a youth pastor reading this, I hope I gave you something to think about as well. There is always a cost to growth. If your pastor wants to talk about numbers, then you can talk about numbers, the numbers that usually come with dollar signs attached. Poor youth pastors are unmotivated youth pastors.

When we talk about cost we must remember that there is a monetary cost, a human cost and a soul cost.

Jesus said,

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

If neither you or your pastor are unwilling to pay such cost for growth, it is best you grow slowly, naturally and in God’s timing.

If you’re interested growing your youth ministry but aren’t sure how to go about it, join one of my coaching groups and watch your confidence and competency grow.

If you’d like more real talk about growth, check out these articles

The Four Words Holding You Back From Numeric and Personal Growth

Stop Pursuing The Crowd and Start Growing Your Audience

The Exciting Summer Outreach Program That Will Grow Your Youth Ministry

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