Growth Part 1 – What is your ceiling?

Have you ever wondered why your youth ministry is not growing? Have you ever wondered how big it could get? What is the fullest potential of your youth ministry? Here I am talking about the number of people involved in the youth ministry. You can measure the “size” of youth ministry or you could measure the “health” of your ministry. But let’s just talk about numbers in this post, because numbers represent an actual disciple.

Every time I meet a youth ministry coordinator, they openly or secretly have a target in their mind of what number represents success. Some people have 20 as their target, others 50 and some want to reach 100. Peter was a person I worked with and his target was always 50 people, once he got 50 he was happy and said his youth group was “healthy”. In the three churches were he had served he had always got 50 young people in his group but that was his ceiling, the youth group never grew bigger than 50.

Most new groups aim for about 20 to 30 people in their group. The magical number for group dynamics seems to be about 30; a group seems its most healthy at about 30-35 people. But does a ministry subconciously stop there when it may have the potential to continue to grow? Why do some leaders have a growth ceiling?

A game changer for me was meeting Phil, a youth ministry coordinator with over 150 people in his youth group and their target was 500. All I wanted to know was how did they get to 150, let alone how were they planning to get to 500. When Phil started with the youth ministry, the group already had 50 people. Together they set themselves the target of reaching 100 students for Christ. When they reached 100 they set their sights on 500 because that was more outrageous than 200.

Reaching a target can lead to complacency if a new target isn’t set. Some groups reach their numbers ceiling and stop growing because they feel they have made it. It is fine to set a reasonable numbers target early in the growth of a new group, but that number should grow as the group grows. Your target should always be one that makes the group challenge itself to invite new people.

The down side of your ceiling is that complacency can lead to stagnation. Some groups hit their numbers ceiling and then go backwards even if they stay around 50. When a group reaches its target it takes away the urgency to invite new people (evangelism). When a group reaches its target it can turn inward to keep its numbers rather than being outward focused on what they can do for others (mission).

What is your numbers ceiling, or what is your complacency figure? What number would make you think you have arrived? What number of participants in your group would take away the urgency to invite new people? You better find this out because you don’t want to stop growing for 12 months before you look into this. You need to plan your next target before you reach your current one.

Please leave a comment about your growth ceilings, perhaps what advice could you offer to others to break through their growth ceilings.


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