Youth ministry in a small church can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. You want to build something awesome, and grow the ministry but the environment isn’t always the best to make that happen. A small (or non existent) budget, limited space, no one to volunteer, not many students in the church, not a lot of visitors, are just some of the many obstacles that smaller church youth ministries face. But being in a small church does NOT mean that you cannot do big ministry!
My first full time position was a church of about 100, or that’s what we said. But to be honest there was probably about 75 on a Sunday, including the 5 in the youth ministry when I got there. I experienced first hand the struggles and obstacles facing small church youth ministries. But I also learned a lot about doing youth ministry in a small church, and how not to be stuck in a small youth ministry just because it was a small church. Check out these 4 keys to doing BIG ministry in a SMALL church…
1.Don’t let the size of the church determine the size of your ministry
When I was hired at my first full time position I had a choice to make. My choice was either accept the fact that I was in a small church so I would have a small youth ministry, or decide that just because the church was small didn’t mean that the youth ministry had to be as well. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I determined that the size of our church would not set the size of the youth ministry.
We are the biggest limiter of what we can do. Change your mindset to something bigger and better, push the limits of what you can do. Of course, everyone says they want their ministry to grow, but don’t just say it actually believe it! Believe it enough to do what it takes and make it happen.
2. Go outside your walls
If you desire to see your ministry grow it is essential that you go outside of just the students in your church. If it is a small church chances are there is a small population of students, which means that if you want it to be bigger than what the church has to offer you then you need to go outside your walls.
Stop doing ministry for the students in the church and start doing ministry for those outside of the church. Be outwardly focused, do events for those students that have not yet come to your ministry. Go on school campuses, go where students are, get outside of your walls to reach students.
(NOTE: The same thing may apply for volunteers as well. If there are no good choices at the church you may have to recruit outside the church. My first volunteer was an awesome guy that I met while surfing and recruited him to serve in the youth ministry!)
3. Be creative!
Chances are you do not have a very large budget or may not even have one at all so be innovative and creative! Come up with creative ways to do things and reach students. Obviously creativity is needed across the board in youth ministry but I had to rely WAY more on creativity at my first church of 75 people than I did at my next church with a budget of $25,000. And to be honest, it was more fun and sometimes even better quality at the small church. Be creative!
4. Change the culture
You have to be the one to set the culture. A culture of inviting, one where everyone cannot wait to bring their friends and everyone they meet is a new potential invite. Talk about it, preach on it, and encourage it often. Make your ministry outwardly focused, think more about the students outside of your church and focus on reaching them for Christ!
Set the standard of excellence in your ministry and do things well. Break the mold and change the culture of your ministry!
The journey is not an easy one, but that is why God chose you! Don’t get penned into a stereotype of youth ministry because you are in a small church. I have been there, and trust me if you don’t let the size of your church limit you before you know it you will have a youth ministry that is challenging the church’s attendance!