A friend asked me a question: How do you rebuild after a significant decline in program attendance.
The question is, what is significant. I would estimate that losing 80% of your youth is significant if you have 100 students. If you lose 50% of your students, and you only had 10 students, that’s pretty significant. Although the term significant varies, it’s safe to say that significant is losing any amount of students that make running a “traditional” youth ministry near impossible and the ability to rebuild arduous.
The first step a lot of youth ministries want to take in RE-Building their program is to RE- Brand it. They want new logos, new t-shirts, new swag. This doesn’t work, long term, because if the same problems that created the decline are not fixed, the same thing will happen.
Petra llic of Klint Marketing lists a few re-branding mistakes in her article 35 Branding Fails,
This is their rebrand unveiling
I’ve shopped in Staples. It wasn’t their logo that turned me off, it was their customer service that caused me to quit shopping there.
Rebranding (outter change) without inner change is the epitome of the sayin, “You can put a ring in a pig’s snout but it’s still a pig.”
This is Tropicana
Petra says their mistake was
“Consumers failed to recognize the product on the shelves which led to a loss in sales.”
You can rebrand yourself into irrelevancy. Youth Ministries who try to re-brand to be cooler, etc are missing the point. You can rebrand to the point that you look more like a youth event center and no longer look like the church. Students want fun but they desperately need the spiritual identity of the Body of Christ.
If you’re youth ministry is seeking to RE-Build, let me offer a three steps you should take before you get to Re-Branding.
Re-Imagine Youth Ministry
It’s possible that the way you were doing youth ministry, before the decline, had seen better days and it’s time for an update in programming, disciple making, philosophy and theology of youth ministry.
You may also come to terms with that the way you do youth ministry will never look the same, again.
What does youth ministry look like without a band?
What does youth ministry look like without a team and it’s just you?
What does youth ministry look like in a smaller room?
What does youth ministry look like with less students?
If you’re in decline, maybe it’s time to let the old way of doing things go and start to re-imagine youth ministry.
We all have to remember that we are sowers not growers.
I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. He who plants and he who waters are one in purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.… I Corinthians 3:7
If you want more practical advice, check out my number one read series 9 Dynamic Ways To Revive A Dying Youth Ministry