Growing A Group

I work in student ministry in the local church setting.  It seems that one of the big responsibilities of a youth pastor is to see that growth is taking place.  Many churches calculate the health of a ministry by the number of people involved.  While I do not think that this is a good indicator of true spiritual health, numbers do help you to see where you've been and if it might be time for a change.  The church that I am the youth pastor at is a smaller church.  We only have about 15-20 in our student ministry weekly.  It has been about 7 years since I was in a church where it was basically having to build the student ministry from the ground up.  Seeing a solid student ministry come to being can be really difficult.  A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into seeing this awesome work that God rise off the ground.  (Let's be very careful to remember that true ministries are the work of God and not just us!)

In the past month, we've seen a few new faces around our student ministry.  I got to thinking about what does it take to see the Kingdom (in your area) grow?  Before I list some reasons that I think, I want to say that I'm not one who thinks that every church has to be a mega-church.  If a church is not seeing new people come to Christ and growing, the truth is that church is dying.  It may be one new person in the past year, or it may be a thousand.

Here are some things that help to see a group grow (from my experience)...

  1. Be focused. By this I mean that there is a clear idea of purpose and direction.  When someone looks at your church, youth group, etc they don't have to ask, "I wonder what they're all about?" after they have even visited you.  People are looking for a place that knows who they are and where they're going (especially in these crazy economic times).  This means that you don't try to do everything under the sun, but you do what God has equipped and called you to with as much excellence as possible.

  2. Be real. In working with people, one must realize that it is not that hard to see when someone is being fake.  Now you may be able to hide it for a little while, but the fakeness eventually fades.  People (especially students) want you to be real with them.  This shows that you value them.

  3. Stay a while. I always heard it said that it takes almost two years to really get going in a place of ministry.  That beginning time is the "honeymoon period."  Working with students, this point is key.  With the great turnover in student ministry, students are wondering how long you will be there?  Will you see them through high school?  Ministers who jump from place to place every year do a great deal of harm.  I must confess, that in the past two places of service I was at one for 3 1/2 years and the other for almost 3 years.  Looking back, I still think that those were too short of stays.

What are some other things that may help to grow a ministry?