Written by: Logan Howard from Life Fellowship Church
“Every number has a name. Every name has a story. Every story matters to God.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase more than once in your life. While people say it with good intention, most pastors use numbers for comparison. The longer I’m in ministry, the more I despise when pastors talk numbers. What they want to know is how many people attend your ministry so they can compare it to theirs. I think that counting butts in seats has made youth pastors either depressed or prideful.
I was angry when it came to numbers, but then I realized how important numbers are to God. There was a whole book dedicated to it in the Bible for crying out loud. Measuring attendance on your ministry gathering night is important, yes. But what God wants to know and what I’m challenging you with is this:
Are you measuring what matters?
I remember nights having hundreds of students show up, and then only having a handful of them come back the next week. I chalked it up to atmosphere, first-time guest follow-up, etc., but I realized it wasn’t that. I had been caring about the wrong things for too long.
Our youth ministry was a mile wide and an inch deep, but I felt like the Lord impressed something on my heart. He said, “Logan, if you focus on going deep, I’ll be able to trust you with the mile wide.”
So, everything I’m sharing with you is not about what I think is important to measure, but I believe God thinks is important to measure. Here are the things we started measuring that changed the game for us:
- Biblical literacy/consistency (students and leaders)
Nobody forced me to give a plug for Feed resources, but once you use them, you’re glad you do. The Insights surveys are the BEST tool to tell you where your youth ministry is spiritually.
As we could guess, our youth ministry is biblically illiterate; 40% of our youth ministry say they hardly read the Bible. So, how can they worship Someone they don’t know? Reading the Bible is the doorway for you to confidently worship the one true God. To begin our journey, we have utilized small groups and anonymous monthly surveys to promote accountability. Every month we have a book of the Bible we read together as a youth ministry, and small group leaders are responsible for challenging the participants. And now, month after month we are able to see if our students are actually reading their Bibles and how often!
Speaking of which, you wouldn’t believe how many students don’t own a printedBible. We are purchasing 300 Telos Bibles (which is the answer to prayer I never knew I needed) to get in the hands of our students, and through accountability, tracking, and consistency, we will see students become biblically literate.
Oh, and did I mention that we require the same things from our adult leaders, except their participation is not anonymous! Leaders who are fed by the Word will be able to lead students to be fed by the Word.
- Salvations-to-water-baptism ratio
I have some horrible news about our youth ministry. Only 7.5% of our salvations get water baptized…
Why? Because until now I had never seen that number in front of my face. It haunts me. How much of a disservice are we doing to someone’s salvation if they say the prayer, but then we say, “Alright, here’s a gift. See you next week!” and don’t explain the need for
For us, we started asking for those who prayed the salvation prayer to come to the front during the service. I share my heart of celebration with them, and then they immediately get two things: 1) connected to a small group leader and 2) receive a Bible. As we are working through this new approach, I have a firm belief that we will actually start seeing students move to the next steps in their relationship with Jesus, including water baptism.
- Involvement (in the church and out)
We started looking into two main areas of serving: in the church and out of it. For us, we have students serving in our church on Sundays and students leading campus clubs on the weekdays. Measuring how many are doing this is very important because a youth ministry that is not exercising gifts and not fulfilling the Great Commission is a dead youth ministry.
By measuring these things, we are confidently able to say that 77% of our students who attend on Wednesdays are serving on Sundays. I have a great friend in ministry who told me for every 10 students they have on a Wednesday night, 15 students are meeting in school Bible clubs.
That’s crazy! I would love to get to a point when I can say more of our ministry and impact is happening beyond the walls of our church than inside!
- What are you tracking right now? Does it really matter to you? Does it really matter to God?
- Check out Feed Insights surveys and the Telos Bible now!
- Feed loves to help equip and resource youth pastors in the local church. Reach out to [email protected] to find out how they can partner with and support you in your ministry.
Why do I share all this with you? Because I believe at the end of your ministry tenure you’re not going to look back and think, “How many students did we have at that big event?”
You’re going to think, “How many of those students still follow Jesus to this day?” I know I will, and I believe when you measure what matters, you will see lifelong disciples that make a difference.