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

How To Perform A Youth Ministry Autopsy

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Sounds morbid doesn’t it? You have a “dead”  youth ministry and you want to know what or who killed it. Mostly, we want to know if we were the “killer”. In the midst of a suspicious death you have to look for clues and evidence to see if this  death was accidental or if it was a homicide (death with some intention) or maybe it’s manslaughter (accidental death through negligence or some other circumstance).

The old murder mystery joke is that if their was a death, the butler must have done it. In the same way, if the youth ministry is dying or dead, we are quick to say the Youth Pastor did it (dramatic music: dun dun dun). But we don’t know any thing until an autopsy has been performed and the evidence is combed through. The questions is, where do we start?

There it is. Our youth ministry is laying on the table, not breathing. Now we have to find out why. It’s time to get out the knives and get to cutting. Before you get hands deep into The Body, grab a notepad app or recorder (like the morgue guys do) and divide your exam into segments.


Is there is some in my personality or a character flaw that is contributing to the down side of your ministry.  Are you always late? Disorganized? Short-tempered? All of these can be contributors to a slow poisoning of relationships and can cause people to move away from helping you instead of jumping on board.


Your youth ministry may have suffered from gluttony (too many events, too many “fun” things” ) or anarexia (not enough spiritual meat) . Looking at your calendar is a clue you can’t offered to skip. A well balanced calendar can meet the needs of students no matter where they are  on the spiritual spectrum.


Sometimes youth ministries die because churches are dying or the church has problems that have nothing to do with youth ministry but it certainly effects it’s potential to grow. Take stock of the youth ministries relation to the church. The ability for ministries to collaborate vs compute makes all the difference. Think of the horror movies you’ve seen where the killer picks off people one at a time. Being off alone is an engraved invitation to ministry killers to come and take you out.


Have their been major changes in your town? Maybe it’s aging or maybe their is urban creep pushing families further out to the suburbs. Does the style of your midweek meeting need a makeover? Culture is a factor but not “the” factor in the death of a youth ministry. Culture can be the “red herring” . In fact, blaming the culture could keep us from looking at other clues that would lead to catching the real killer.

Your youth ministry maybe dead, but have hope. We serve a risen Savior who specializes in raising people (and ministries)  back to life.

If you’r needing a youth ministry autopsy, I consider myself an ME (Ministry Examiner)  I can take a look under the sheet and help you find the clues, catch the “killer”,  and maybe,  bring your youth ministry back from the dead. Cheek out my coaching resource HERE.

Other posts that ay help

Youth Ministry Programming Tip: Taking Clues Not Cues From Popular Culture

 10 Ways To Raise The Bar In Your Youth Ministry 


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