McFranchising of Youth Ministry

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Too often I see the McFranchising of Youth Ministry. So how many do you run, how big is your youth group? (Almost sounds like a Jr. High locker room). What ticks me off is we compare, we go after numbers as the only indication of health and equate that mega equals better. God gives the increase. Numbers in and of themselves is not the ONLY indicator. I think a BIG injustice is done to youth ministry trying to be the NEXT Big thing or even to BE LIKE DOUG FIELDS. God blesses both big and small churches. BE yourself. Be who God created you to be. Learn from others. Make disciples. Be faithful. But stay away from McFranchising and Business Incorporating your youth ministry. It's unhealthy, and really gets annoying after awhile. Maybe the better question is not how big is your group, but how DEEP is your group? Any disciples?

8 Responses to “McFranchising of Youth Ministry”

  1. Blogger The Thief 

    That kind of thinking is pretty Yaconellian. meaning, it'll get you fired for Jesus.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous 

    yep, its always about numbers, it seems? youth pastors do it to each other. partents want to know why the group hasnt exploded with hundreds of kids - but at the same time they want to make sure their kid/kids get the most attention possible.

    we cant do it all, folks. but the pressure TO do it seems to always be there.

    also, it seems like when the "big" church doesnt grow, its the fault of the members for not inviting others and not spreading the word? but when the youth group doesnt grow, its because we're not doing a good job.

    at this point in time, i feel way more led to disciple students than build some mega-youth group. especially considering the fact that, by in large, we're FAILING MISERABLY to teach student to live their faith after they're out of high school.

    i'm a lousy preacher too. i cant get up and give those "blow your sock off" messages like some of the ultra-cool youth ppl/specialists/experts we see on tv. i just dont have that gift. but i do seem to be able to make the Bible make sense to teens.

    i think the "McFranchising" mentality is here to stay, to a certain degree. it's the "bigger it better" mindset of the western world.

    and i also agree, that you run a serious risk of getting fired by not thinking along those lines.

  3. Blogger J-Wild 

    Numbers in youth ministry are good for illuminating very few things, and effectiveness and value aren't any of them.

    I have to say that I am questioning whether or not creating disciples of Jesus is really a call Youth Ministry is capable of achieving. I am not sure it's fair for youth ministers to be expected to create disciples of Jesus Christ out of 15 and 16 year olds.

    So that begs the questions, "What is the point of YM and how can it be effectively measured?" I have started to really latch onto the idea that youth ministry's number one goal should be helping teens see that they have a place within the community of the Church to serve and belong to. Then they must understand that they are loved by God regardless of their discipleship or devotion to Him. Measuring those two things is very simple. The day your teen age out of the youth group, do they show up for adult worship the next week, and feel like they belong there because they are worshiping God out of an understanding of His love for them.

    Based on that assessment I personally am not doing a great job. A lot of my teens age out of our youth group and then don't come back to church, even if they happened to be disciples during their time in the youth group. There are a lot of reasons for this. Preaching style, worship style, lack of age specific community. But honestly it really boils down to the fact that there hasn't been a strong enough connection made for those teens during their years in the youth group between their place within the church at large, and the church's need for that (former) teen.

    I think helping teens bridge the gap between consumers of church to givers at church is the ultimate responsibility for youth ministers, and a way in which measurement of success can be fairly taken.

    Not saying creating disciples is bad, but I think there are some flaws in that being the sole focus. Perhaps that's a good topic to discuss. Personal discipleship versus an ecclesiological focus.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous 

    j-wild -

    great post. i agree that the whole transition is a HUGE problem - and one my church is dealing with. we have pretty much ignored it over the years, but its starting to get some attention now. sadly though, the older ppl just don't seem to get it. i really wish that weren't true, but it is. they don't make much room (really, none at all) for the youth in the service. the style of everything we do is SO outdated and irrelevant to youth culture (not that I believe in catering, but reaching out IS important). the attitude from the top is almost, "hey kids, we're really looking forward to a move of God in your generation...we're praying for you...hang in there..." but nothing is really ever changed. the teens in our church are starting to see it as nothing but lip-service. i'm trying to keep them hanging on, but i can only do so much.

    i think you bring up a really great point, though i have to disagree about the purpose not being to make disciples. we (all of us) are directly commissioned in the Bible to do so. in my view, its really the only thing we should be doing.

  5. Blogger Chad 

    Disciple making is a process. As a parent, I'm a disciple-maker to my daughters. As a youth minister, I'm a disciple-maker. That doesn't necessarily mean the 14-15 year-olds will be mature. It simply means I take seriously spiritual formation in those entrusted to me. It shapes what I do, from evangelism to community.

  6. Blogger Brian Eberly 

    It is indeed about discipleship, helping our students become more like Jesus and less like themselves.

    I believe when that is our focus, and our students our living their lives as reflections of Jesus, by loving others and truly being missional, then we might see our numbers swell.

    People are attracted to Jesus, the real Jesus, long before they are a fancy program. If our numbers grow let it be because of Jesus working in the lives of our students, not by us attracting them by our fancy programs.

  7. Anonymous -Justin- 

    I complteyly agree, this drives me crazy. Each time I am asked about our numbers, I respond by talking about what a healthly group we have.

  8. Blogger Jovan 

    Here recently I've been answering the numbers question by giving a smaller number than we actually have. I've had deacons or fellow staff members give ridiculous totals counting every guest who has ever walked through our door. Which leads some to say in response to my answer... "I remember when we had ## amount of students, what's happened?"

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