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

The Base vs Swing Voters: Three Things I Learned About Outreach In Small Churches

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I used to be a political junkie, so when I hear pundits talking about the upcoming elections I listen through my special youth ministry headset. That is what sparked this latest post. The question posed was “Should the politician go after the base or the swing voters to get elected?”.

In my first two youth ministries,  I was torn between reaching the lost or fringe kids and ministering to church kids. Sometimes I have been at odds with the expectation of parents, staff, and myself. I would get a head of steam and say  something stupid like, “If these kids won’t win the lost, I will!”. Yeah, I got far with that. The problems were many and varied

  1. I would inundate the group with lost kids and our group started to lose its shape and identity. The  group was not prepared to receive the lost. Students would come in but we would soon lose due to holes in our net. What I learned: If a group is not properly trained, the connections  won’t be made.  I should have trained  our group that we were not just some youth group but God’s church.
  2. I did not get key people on my side such as leaders, the pastor, or parents. Swing voters may come, but they won’t help you when times are tough. They are committed to the fun, not the process. The swing voters will simply swing to other youth groups and churches.
  3. I didn’t follow Jesus’ model. Jesus appealed to his base. He trained the 72 and the 12 and sent them out. Swing voters are like men Jesus invited to follow Him and they gave excuses. Jesus’ base was more like, “To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

I’m not saying we shouldn’t win the lost but, if you’re banking on swing voters to get you “elected” you may lose your base and eventually the election (a.k.a your job). Love your base, train your base, send your base.

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