Attendance ≠ Engagement

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I was reading in Youth Specialties new Magalog...which is kinda cool. It's got articles in the front, all the resources in the back.

Anyway - I'm reading this article and for the life of me I can't remember who wrote it but the first line slayed me. Don't mistake attendance with vulnerability or engagement. You can have a student who shows up every week and still no one knows them. You can have a student who makes it twice a month but is vulnerable and has lots of "off-line" contact with others and/or a mentor. That second student may just be more on the journey than the one who shows up every week.

How true is that? And it puts the emphasis back to where it ought to have stayed. I'm the guiltiest of the guilty of equating events with ministry. Not necessarily with the calendar, but with my evaluations. How many people showed up? How many walked the aisle/cry/rededicated? Did it flow? How many glitches did we have/not have? (Right...if you are in student ministry and have had an event without a glitch, move to Rome and let the cardinals know. They picked the wrong Pope.)

The point of all this stuff is a life transformed by Jesus. And more often than not - that is close work. Like life on life work. Salt and light kinda work. That means engagement, not just mere attendance.

As we cruise into the summer - engage. Choose to engage. That doesn't mean one more meeting on the calendar. It might mean a little longer coffee break. A little sneaky off work early to go hang or catch a movie. It might mean cooking a little extra and inviting someone over.

I love roast, by the way!

(This was written by Grant - you can check out his blog at
Grant is the youth pastor at Grace Church in Little Rock, AK)

7 Responses to “Attendance ≠ Engagement”

  1. Blogger Jason Retherford 


    Thanks for sharing this article, it is a great reminder of our challenge to minister, to make disciples.

    I know at times, I have fallen victim to the more events equals better ministry, this is so not true -- sometimes less is more, specially if we are engaging our kids to encounter Jesus, attendance doesn't equate to spirituality.

    Along these same lines, have any of you dealt with a question of whether or not your youth ministry or any of your events were spiritual? How do you define what is spiritual anyway?

  2. Blogger Chad 

    Thanks for posting this. It's good to find others online to share thoughts and reflections with.

  3. Blogger David Moss 

    Man - this hits home for me. I just got back from a YS "The Core" conference which was excellent. It highlighted how so much of the youth culture is experiencing abandonment. We have a fairly small youth group and I have been guilty of saying to the kids that are showing up "Where is everyone else?" OUCH.......instead of, I'm so glad you are here. (Okay, I say that a lot as well but I can leave that other comment for our leaders to discuss rather than ask the youth.) Forgive me Father.....

  4. Blogger CL 

    Dave, been there done that. I think we have all been guilty of that. It's that whole attendance thing that has been engained into my brain. Unless attendance is good, you were not successful.

  5. Blogger jlo 


    Good stuff on your blog. I used to work with Grant while at Grace and he has some really good insight into how to engage and "ruin students for Jesus".

    By the way, I hate to be nit picky, but Arkansas is AR not AK. I think that is Alaska?

    Fight the Good Fight and keep up the great blogging!

  6. Blogger CL 

    Sorry I am a little slow in the state abreviations.

  7. Blogger Slammin Sammy 

    wassup suuuuuup

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