There has been an interesting trend in ministries to high school students in the past several years that has, quietly, diminished students in many smaller churches. Smaller churches aren’t necessarily losing students to the lost world, but the majority of students who stop calling small churches/congregations home end up attending the larger churches in our city.
Youth Rally for Students
Friday, October 23 7:30pm
Towers Baptist Church
Please don’t misunderstand the above observation as criticism of the larger churches in our city, nor should we consider any other ministries in the Kingdom locally as competition. Larger churches of any evangelical affiliation serve the Lord faithfully, and any way students in our city can experience Jesus is a win for the One Kingdom we all serve. Smaller churches, making up the vast majority of churches in our region, also serve our Lord faithfully. However, despite the knowledge that we ought not to be comparing our ministries to another, we are nonetheless discouraged when we do not feel the results are the same.
When I interact with students who have left a small church and are currently attending a larger church in our city, their responses are best summarized as:
- “It’s nice not to have to be in charge of something and just come and worship God.”
- “The atmosphere at the larger church is a lot better than what I’ve experienced elsewhere.”
- “I really find community at the larger church.”
Smaller churches and congregations often rely heavily on students to serve. We’ve often focused on our students’ attendance in our programs for them and ask them to serve other areas of our churches before we remember to embrace them with Jesus’ love and purpose for them. As a result, they know church to only be about the programs we stress, become weary of the expectations and service within the walls of the church, and unable to experience the community of believers that God had designed our churches to be.
The Bible demonstrates that we fuel churches more when we are outside of the church than inside - most of the miracles in the book of Acts happened outside of the church. Perhaps we ought not to focus on programs within the walls of the church, but empower them to love our God and love their neighbours, sending them out of our churches to live lives on mission just as God had sent His Son to send us, allowing God to fuel your church by their testimonies on how God is using them. This not only relieves the burden students feel about their church, but is the type of disciple making Jesus left for us to follow!