Youth ministries need critical mass in order to have impact and sustainability. Critical mass means having a commitment collection of teenagers.
Critical mass is culture specific. It is determined by location, teenager clusters, church tradition and values, and community culture.
The problem: to many youth ministries prematurely launch their mission, vision, and value statement before obtaining a critical mass of students and leaders. There is a fundamental difference between a student filling space and a student who internalizes the teachings of Jesus. How many American youth ministries get their branding campaigned launched before they have an invested group of teenagers that are carrying out Kingdom values? I think youth pastors are too eager to get in there and start doing what they love doing before finding people who are willing to follow them. This may speak to why after two years youth pastors are frustrated with their youth group because apparently their students are not getting it.
My point: start with discipleship, before branding your youth ministry. Start investing in teenagers before even thinking about envisioning where to take the youth ministry. Trust me once you have a few teenagers that get it, it is a lot easier to do God’s work. The difficulty is being patience and constantly praying that God will send students your way.
I think Jesus understood this idea of critical mass. In the gospel of Matthew, He asks a few dudes to come follow Him before He fully launched His killer, redemptive, and transformational ministry.
Taking a youth ministry from surviving to sustaining is a difficult 3-5 year project. I think one aspect to having a youth group that does stuff for God is gaining the right critical mass.
Youth Ministry Critical Mass….
– is not governed by numbers, but by actionable commitment levels (actionable commitment – people are willing to do thing because they believe)
– actionable commitment levels correlate with impact intensity
– reinforces that a group of teenagers are “already” (already is the key word) believing in Jesus, the intentions of the youth pastor, and the youth ministry values
– affirms that students are somewhat excited and passionate about knowing God and doing His work
Every youth ministry needs a critical mass that desire to change the world and they know what it costs to follow Jesus.
**Although…. there is no magic formula to gain a critical mass, except a lot of perseverance, pain, prayer, TIME, tough conversations, action, endurance, faith, and hanging with,talking to, chilling with, being with, praying for, sitting with, and listening to teenagers.