Numbers or nurturing? Do church youth groups have to be big before they are successful? Isn’t nurturing kids more important than numbers?
Deuteronomy 32:10 In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.
I was reading another pastor’s blog this morning. She was discussing a meeting that she had with a congregation who wanted to know how to attract young people into the church. The pastor was trying to get across the idea that building up young lives was more important than building up numbers, but the people at the meeting were impatient and frustrated. They wanted a successful youth group, full of teenagers, and bursting at the seams. In other words, numbers were more important than nurturing.
At Erin Church, I believe we have a great Youth leader. Becca has served our church for several years, building up relationships with the young people under her care. She treats them with respect and encourages them to grow in faith, fun, and fellowship. It’s a remarkable ministry that blesses our congregation year after year.
If Becca was more interested in numbers rather than nurturing, our Youth group would not work. She makes and takes time out of her busy schedule to invest many hours, conversations, teaching moments, and emails with our church youth. She knows what they need and more importantly, understands what the church needs for the future. I feel that we are blessed by her commitment, compassion, and Christianity. In my humble opinion, Becca understands how God cares about our young people. Like Him, she is willing to guard and care for them, as the apple of her eye. The respect that she gets from our young people is wonderful and the faith that they experience is eternal. Concentrating on mere numbers is superficial; focusing on nurturing young spirits is priceless.
Perhaps you are part of a church that worries about the numbers in your youth group. Forget about the numerical values and concentrate on the eternal values of those young souls. That’s how God looks at the church and His people. Consider this: if God was more interested in numbers, then why did He choose the nomadic Hebrews for His people above all the other mighty nations and civilizations of the time? The answer is simple: nurturing relationships means more to God than gathering numbers.
Prayer: Lord God, it’s amazing to see how You worked with the Jewish people across the centuries. They were tiny and insignificant, unworthy and unsuccessful compared to the mighty Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. And yet You called them to be the apple of Your eye.
Teach us today that same lesson where numbers do not triumph nurturing. Give us a new understanding of the holy work that is done in each of our churches. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.