Why I like Vision Sunday videos

It seems to be the season for Vision Sunday videos popping up on youtube and vimeo.  They are becoming more and more common as churches use multimedia to share their vision with their members and those on the fringes of their church.  While more churches are using this format, I don’t grow tired of watching them, even though there are many similarities.  They are not so much a copy of each other as they are similar in the bold way they cast vision.

In this short post here are three reasons I love Vision Sunday videos:

  1. They give me hope – all of the videos that I have seen have made me want to join the church, even though I love my own church.  They shine forth a vision of hope and joy that God will build the Church.  In an era of sexual abuse scandals and low attendance figure I want to connect with the hope that God is and will build His Church.
  2. They take time to make – most of these vision would take weeks to put together, both from a technical point of view and a vision point of view.  These aren’t random thoughts or last minute ideas, they have prayerfully launched a God ordained vision.
  3. They encourage me to be bold – none of the videos that I have seem are promising to do more of the same.  Churches use Vision Sunday videos to launch bold new initiative.  Even if the new ministries perform only half as good as the church hopes it is far bolder than doing nothing.

There are many videos out there that you can watch, some from churches that are from a different denomination to you and I, but watch them anyway.  What bold new hope do you get from watching these?  Please don’t watch them with a cynical attitude of “that will never happen”.  Even if half of it comes off then the Kingdom of God is advance.

Here are two of my favourites:

Liberty Church NYC

Hope Unlimited Church

What was Youth Ministry like when I began in 1991?

Youth Ministry in 1991Recently I was presenting a workshop at a youth ministry training event and I began by telling the participants that I started in youth ministry in 1991.  About half of the participants in the room indicated that they were born after 1991 and most of the others were very close to the same age.  While I was running the workshop I became more aware of how different youth ministry was when I began over 20 years ago.  Young culture and Church culture have changed so much in the last 20 years that I thought I would share some of these with you.

Now before we go any further this is not a historical overview of how youth ministry has changed in the past 20 years globally or even nationally.  I will share a few observations from the youth ministry in my church back in 1991 and if you were around youth ministry in 1991 please leave a comment to share your observations as well.  If you weren’t even born in 1991 then read this as a history lesson.

  1. Led by Parent Couples – when I first started in youth ministry every youth ministry had a parent couple attached.  These were a married couple, or several married couples, who would oversee the youth ministry.  In my youth ministry they trained and support the youth leaders, helped workshop youth talks and run the finances.  As a young person we felt safe knowing that parents were looking after the “hard stuff” like finances so that we could have fun.  In 2013 it seems that parent couples have almost disappeared from the youth ministry landscape.  I know some youth groups in 1991 that had to take a break until a parent couple could be found, something that would seem unreasonable in 2013.
  2. No professionals – in 1991 I don’t remember any professional youth ministry staff.  Knowing the history of youth ministry that I know now, there were a few professionals around but they were rare.  Youth ministry was a volunteer ministry that was often peer led.  In 1991 I never ever thought that I could spend 20 years of my life getting paid to lead youth and young adult ministry.  In 2013 the “high” turnover rate that some see as a problem stems from the era of the 1980’s and 90’s when everyone volunteered for 1-2 years as a youth leader then moved onto the adult congregation of the church.
  3. After church on Sunday night – in our location and many other churches in 1991 youth group was on a Sunday night after our 6pm Church service.  Back in those days many young people were still going to church on a semi regular basis so linking youth group with the church service seemed like a natural thing.  In fact in 1991 it was easier to recruit youth group members from the church congregation if the two were linked.  In 2013 the biggest question many youth ministries face is the opposite question, how do we get our youth group members to join our Sunday congregation.  In 2013 youth group is often set in concrete on Friday nights as though that was how it has always been done.
  4. Keeping young people in church – when I started in youth ministry in 1991 many youth would stop going to church about 15-18 or Year 10.  So youth ministry was a way of keeping young people coming along to church.  In 2013 youth ministry seems more about starting young people coming to church as most young people stop going in the children’s ministry age group, if they were ever attending.
  5. No mobile phones – In 1991 a friend of mine showed me his dad’s mobile phone and it was as big as a brick.  Only business people had mobile phones.  Young people not only didn’t have smart phones they didn’t even have mobiles.  Youth Ministry was the time to catch up with people for the week and if you missed youth group you missed a week of connection with your peers.  If you missed youth you may have missed news of a party or social outing and there was no way to catch up.  In 2013 if young people miss youth group they can catch up with all the news, gossip and party news within hours via Facebook or SMS.
  6. Film Cameras – this might sound really old fashion but only a few young people had cameras at events and it would take a week or two to send the film photos off for developing.  In 1991 there was always a physical photo wall or photo album put up three weeks after youth events to show what had happened at the events; it was a real way to keep the memories alive.  In 2013 the photos go up on Facebook and Instagram as the event is happening and are forgotten about within days.
  7. Youth Culture – in 1991 in my area there were the metal heads (Heavy metal music), wax heads (surfers), skateheads  (skateboarding) and nerds (those who weren’t part of the other groups).  Whilst I admit that I was a nerd, it seemed that there were only a few youth subgroups to fit into.  In 2013 the youth culture has split the youth subgroups in to thousands.  The music industry alone has thousands of music styles that weren’t branded this way in 1991.  Youth clothing has become more targeted in 2013 and costs a lot more money.  In 1991 if a young person had slashed jeans they weren’t $250 designer jeans, they were the cheap jeans showing signs of being old.

This is just some of the ways that youth ministry was different when I first started in 1991.  My hope is that some of my colleagues who were around in the 1980’s/90’s might add a comment with their observations from that period.

Whilst the specific details might vary from location to location in 1991 they also vary from location to location in 2013.  Rather than this being a post of the golden era of youth ministry from the good old days, I just want this generation of youth ministry leaders to recognise that ministry changes and that is OK.  Many of the things that some youth ministers think we have always done in youth ministry are in fact new additions that have improved or complicated youth ministry.  It is OK for youth ministry to change, in fact I hope that youth ministry continues to change and adapt as young people change and adapt to the culture around them.

Please leave a comment.

markoffaith, MarkofFaith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net

How to start something new in your ministry

Starting something newAt the start of every year churches seem ready to start something new.  The New Year brings a new season in your ministry rather than more of the same old routine.  Perhaps there is a ministry that was needed last year that you didn’t have the energy for or perhaps there wasn’t space in your program to start something new.  With the New Year comes new energy and we all think we can take on more projects.  So if you find yourself thinking this way this post will help you through the process.

With over 10 years experience in ministry consultancy, most people underestimate the time and effort it takes to start a new ministry.  Many ministry leaders hope to get something started with a few weeks preparation when really it takes months to prepare for a new start.  Recently I was reading a 2012 strategic plan for a church which included plans for a start up ministry in 2014.  In ministry we have to cautious of being inspired to start a new ministry on our holiday and hoping it is fully running the second week we get back.

As many of us begin our ministries after the long summer holiday break, here are a few tips to starting something new in your church this year:

  1. Narrow the focus – once you start planning to begin something new everyone wants to be included more than you had planned so you have to keep a narrow focus.  So a new junior high ministry shouldn’t include senior students as participants.  The new music team should also double as a bible study.  Don’t try to bite off too much when you first start a new element within your ministry; you can always broaden the focus later but it is harder to cut back as you launch.
  2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – there is such a tendency to launch something and work out the details later.  If you don’t prepare fully then you won’t be ready when you launch which will turn visitors off.  When we were starting a junior ministry in one of the churches we took six months to prepare even though we had 20 young people ready to go.  We needed time to prepare the first six months of talks, themes and research appropriate activities.
  3. Ride through the dip – six months into every start up the ministry hits a dip in numbers or energy, perhaps due to a lack of money, leaders or participants get bored.  What will be the dip in your ministry?  Seth Godin in his book “The Dip” believes that most start ups fail because they don’t know how to ride through the dip; those that ride through the dip are the ones that succeed.  Perhaps your dip will come in six weeks perhaps it will come in two years but you must ride through the dip in energy and numbers to be successful.
  4. Marketing is important – In his book on Church Marketing, Richard Riesling says that marketing is managing perception.  With any new element in your ministry you have to manage the perception that others have of what the ministry is about.  In the start up of our junior youth group we called it Blaze to evoke the image of a faith that is on fire for God; and we didn’t mention or offer pizza even once.  Mange the perception of your new venture so that people know this is long term and not a flash in the pan idea.
  5. Who will lead it when you are gone – perhaps you don’t need to answer this question before you begin unless you are planning on leaving within six months.  But from the very beginning you need to start training and preparing your replacement.  In fact sometimes other leaders won’t put their hand up until you are a success so start anyway.
  6. Have fun – starting a new ministry is a lot of work but it is so much fun.  Everyone gets excited and there is so much enthusiasm towards something new.  Enjoy this time and have fun serving your ministry.

It is important for us to be looking ahead to see how we can start something new this year that will meet the needs of people next year and into the future.  We can’t wait until our current programs fizzle out before we look to the horizon to see what is next.  Perhaps this year is a year of transition for you and your ministry, I hope and prayer that God leads you where you need to be.

Please leave a comment about how you have started a new ministry.

markoffaith, MarkofFaith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net

How to hold a ministry meeting at church

Church MP900405058Sometimes you just have to gather your ministry on your church property for a meeting.  You can’t always head off site for meetings as it breaks the connection between the ministry and your church.  In the previous post we look at holding an off site meeting, so here we will explore a few tips for holding a ministry meeting on your church site.

Each church property has a different combination of church/worship space, chapels, halls, foyers, meeting rooms and office space.  Some church properties have great meeting rooms whilst others have a lack of space that is difficult to deal with.  Some churches have a variety of meeting rooms whilst others just have one large multi purpose room (that never seems to service any event really well). Often we hold meetings on the church property because it will involve a larger group of people than you would invite to a café or your house.  But there are some important things to consider when hosting a ministry meeting at church:

  1. Service or meeting – you have to decide is it a church service or a meeting?  A church service has a liturgical form that may not address the issues that you are meeting about.  Sometimes people get confused if you have to hold a meeting in the main worship space of your church rather than the meeting rooms or hall.  So if you are going to meet in the church or worship space then make it clear that this is a meeting not a church service.
  2. Avoid the pews – it is important that everyone can see each other or see the people presenting the information that the meeting is about.  Church pews are very rigid, especially the ones that are bolted down.  If at all possible find a space where you can move the chairs to help people see each other.
  3. Put out the signs: many church properties are like Fort Knox or a Rabbit warren where it is confusing how to get to the meeting space.  Don’t assume that people know where to go for meetings, put out a sign or some directions.  Many people will head towards the worship space out of habit so direct people to your meeting from there.  If your property is locked up like Fort Knox then put signs on the outside gates telling people where they can get in.
  4. Find the smaller spaces – if you are meeting with 15 people then the 200 seat church may not be the best venue so find a smaller meeting room.  Find the space that suits the size of group that is coming to the meeting, not to small or not to large.  The size of the space can set the tone and atmosphere so choose wisely.
  5. Do you need tables: if you are expecting people to take notes or do some work then you need to provide tables for people.  A board meeting or team training event will work well in a venue with tables and chairs.  However a meeting that is discussion based may be better in an informal space without tables.
  6. Create interaction – sometimes when people come to church they are used to sitting and listening so break this pattern up with interaction.  Have a brainstorm or buzz session where people can throw ideas into the mix of conversation.  If you are talking about a particular issue in your meeting then ask people to turn to their neighbour or form small groups to talk about the issue.
  7. Provide food and drinks – it is important to have a bit of food and a drink at the meeting.  Often people have this as the first part of the meeting whilst people are arriving.  If people have come straight from home where they have had a meal then perhaps hold food and drink until the end.  If your people leave straight after the meeting to go home then have food and drink in the middle as a break.

Don’t be scared of holding a ministry meeting on your church property; it helps build a connection with the physical space.  It is great for people to feel at home on the church property rather than only coming to Church for formal occasions  The more at home people feel on church property the more they are likely to volunteer for ministry in your church.  So next time you have to meet with someone from church consider meeting them on church property rather than in a cafe.

Please leave a comment with your advice

markoffaith, MarkofFaith, Mark of Faith, mark of faith, mrmarkmcdonald, markoffaith.net

How to hold a Church meeting in a Cafe

Meeting in a cafeSometimes you need to with smaller groups of people in your ministry in an environment where it more personal and the church which seems too formal.  The café has become the town square in our western culture, people are always catching up in a café.  You only have to be in ministry for a short time before someone asks you out “for coffee”.  Whilst the reasons for meeting in a café may vary, it has become the prefered place for hosting smaller church meetings.

In my 10 years of ministry consulting I have been to a variety of ministry meetings in cafes and restaurants   Usually I ask the person I am meeting to pick the location because they know their area better than I do.  Many people pick a popular spot which has a downside; it is hard to get a table, it is very noisy, or  they know everyone in the room so it is hard for them to focus.  One time a person picked a café where the tables were 20cms apart, so not only could we hear the conversation of the table next to us but the table next to that as well.

After writing a post on holding a church meeting in your home, it got me thinking about how to make the most of meeting in a public space such as a café.  You can meet in a cafe for a discipleship or mentoring session.  You could catch up with your ministry team to debrief and event or plan a future event.  You could meet with someone to give them pastoral care or to held them discern a major decision.  You can meet in a cafe because people are dropping in and out at various times.

So here is my list of recommendations for holding a church or ministry meeting in a café:

  1. The bigger the better – find a café with a lot of tables and enough room for you to get some space away from other patrons; if you know that the café is always full then don’t go  there for a church meeting.  If a café needs a booking to get a seat go there with your friends but not with your ministry team.  Pick a café where you can seat everyone without sitting on top of another group of people.
  2. Conversation not coffee – some people pick a place for the best coffee in town but the atmosphere doesn’t generate conversation.  Most of the cafes that are “trendy” and serve great coffee are small, packed and often have loud music playing.  Pick a place where you know you can talk as the purpose of your meeting is conversation not great coffee.
  3. Avoid the traffic – avoid a café in the busy section of a shopping mall or that has all the seats in a busy walkway.  Sometimes people don’t want everyone seeing who they are talking to you, especially if they want to talk about an issue they are struggling with.  If someone might end up crying then get a table near the back.  If you really can’t be seen by members of your church then go to a café in another area.
  4. Don’t order messy food – don’t order the messy cake with extra cream or anything that might be fussy or difficult to eat.  If the person you are meeting with is sharing something personal you need to concentrate on them not your food.  Usually I just order a coffee and a glass of water or if we are eating I will order a muffin so it can be shared.
  5. Check the opening times – there is nothing worse that picking a location and it isn’t open when you are planned to meet.  Some cafes that open for breakfast close early in the afternoon while others that are open for late night coffee don’t open for breakfast.  There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a conversation and the owner asking you to leave because they are closing up.
  6. Not too expensive – there are some cafes that think their food and coffee is so good that they can charge anything they want, but don’t force everyone you meet for coffee to pay top dollar.  Most people will pay $3-4 for coffee so avoid the places that charge $6 for a latte.  If you are meeting with someone who can’t afford anything then suggest this up front so they will at least have something.  Also don’t expect your team members to pay for you all the time.

Finding a good place in your area that is suitable for holding a small meeting or ministry catch up is like finding gold, once you find it you will go back time and time again.  If you are always meeting with people from your ministry in a café then do your research and find one that suits.  Please leave a comment about your experience of holding a church meeting in a café.

markoffaith, mark of faith, mrmarkmcdonald

How to hold a Church meeting in your home

In ministry we are almost always holding meetings, whether it is a team meeting, a planning day, a discipleship or mentoring session or a pastoral catch up.  The space that you choose for your meeting is really important in setting the boundaries and tone of the meeting.  Finding good spaces to hold meetings is part of your job in ministry.

At times I have held meeting in a few places that just didn’t work.  Perhaps the meeting room was next to band practice or the café was so popular that we couldn’t get a seat.  One time the café was public that everyone from our church that walked past stopped in to say hello, interrupting the flow of conversation.  In this series I want to look at choosing the right location for your Church or Ministry meetings.

In this first post we will look at holding church meetings at your house.  When my wife and I had kids it was much easier at the time to have people over to my house for a church meeting.  It was great for social events with a ministry team or a planning day that was going to take several hours.  The home environment gave us a greater opportunity to offer hospitality but there a few drawbacks as well:

  • Cleaning up – every time we have people from church over to our house there is extra cleaning to be done.  Whilst you don’t want to put on a show for people, the house can’t have the same clutter that your family might put up with every day.
  • Getting people to leave – at the end of the night you just want to go to bed but how do you encourage people to your house?  You have to set a finishing time before you start so that people know when you are expecting them to leave.
  • Kids – everything goes well if the kids behave but what if they test the boundaries just when the meeting is starting?  You should establish some ground rules with your kids before your ministry team arrive.

Several years ago when my wife and I were starting a church ministry we held the leadership meetings in our house.  We had a big house with an upstairs living area for our two boys so the boys could play whilst we held the meetings.  If you have a meeting in your family home don’t make your family sit in their bedrooms whilst you take over the house for meetings.  If there isn’t room for your family as well as running the meeting  then meet somewhere else.

Recently I read about the guidelines for a Vicarage within the Anglican Church, these are the standards that all houses should meet for a minister in the Anglican Church:

  • Four bedrooms – which are off limits to guests
  • Two living spaces – one for the family to live in and one that could be used for meetings
  • Study or an office
  • Separate toilet for guests

Whilst your house may not meet those requirements, if you are going to use your house as a meeting spot think of the needs of your family.  The advantage of having a meeting at your home is that your family can be part of your ministry.  It is a great blessing for your ministry team to witness what a family is really like.  But if your home is not suitable or it places too much burden on your family then choose another location for your church meeting.

In the next two posts we will look at holding church meetings in other places:

  • Public spaces like a Café
  • Church property

markoffaith, mark of faith, Mark of Faith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net

Back to writing again

Thank you for your patience, over the past three weeks I took a writing break to prepare for my bible studies exams.  It has been well worth the extra study and I have learnt a lot.  I look forward to writing more faith, ministry and leadership insights over the summer vacation period.

How does God speak to you?

In my line of ministry, and because of the events I attend, I meet Christians from a diverse range of backgrounds.  This means that I encounter a variety of prayer and worship styles because of all the different churches and denominations that I work with.  Yet the interesting thing to note is that God speaks to people in every church, in every prayer style and in every worship style.  The key to hearing from God is to know how God speaks to you.

In my line of work I have met people who hear from God through praying the rosary, reading the bible, listening to podcasts, contemporary worship music, social justice, working with people, teaching and many more.  It would be unfair to say that God doesn’t speak at least someone through a particular prayer or worship style.  However it is fair to day that most people hear from God in the style that is dominant in their denomination:

  • Pentecostals in contemporary worship
  • Catholics in the Liturgy
  • Anglicans in preaching
  • Salvation Army in service of others

Most of us have a favourite prayer and worship style and so we think God speaks to almost everyone in that style.  For example, some of my most profound moments with God have been in the four or five songs of contemporary praise and worship service, yet my wife wants it to finish half way through the opening song to get on with the preaching.

Two people at the same even can have very different reactions.  For example, when I visited a monastic prayer service with a group I was working with, someone said it was the most profound experience of God in their life, yet I could not understand a single word of the service as it was in Latin.

We are all different and so God uses different prayer and worship styles to speak to people.  Here are three things to keep in mind when listening for God:

  1. Not everyone listens in the same way:  Perhaps a friend of yours listens to God using one style but you might be more comfortable with another style.  Look at how you normally take in information (audio, visual, experiential, individual, communal etc) and see if you can find a prayer and worship style suited to that.  Don’t just stick with what is natural in your denomination, experiment with other styles until you find one that helps you listen to God.
  2. Don’t rule it out until you’ve tried it:  some people rule out styles of worship because it isn’t from their denomination.  Perhaps you need to experience something to see if you find God in it for yourself rather than listening to someone else’s negative opinion.  Once you have tried it then you know if it is for you or not, just like I now know that monastic prayers services in Latin are not for me.
  3. Your preferences change as you get older: be aware that as you grow older and as you grow more mature as a Christian your preferences will change.  When you were younger you might have liked more communal prayer styles but as you get older you need more personal time with God.  Perhaps as you get more mature in your faith you need to listen for God through serving others and putting your faith into action.

In your searching you will encounter some styles of prayer and worship that can be forced rituals or superstitious if you don’t enter then the right way.  Check with a trusted leader, pastor or priest who might be able to help you, but be aware that people hear from God in almost every prayer and worship style.

Before we finish here are two words of warning:

  1. God’s Word:  if you don’t ever hear God speaking to you when you read the bible then perhaps you need more detailed advice than this blog post can give.  God’s Word in the bible should be like air to our lungs; it should inspire us, comfort us, challenge us and makes us feel loved by God.  If you never hear from God when reading God’s word then see your spiritual advisor, pastor or priest.
  2. Service:  the bible says that faith without works is dead (James 2:26), so if all you do is sit by yourself listening for God without ever serving others then get out into the world.  As a Christian it is not just about your own personal relationship with God, you must be out in the world serving and ministering to others.

I hope that helps you learn to hear from God.  If you have any advice then please leave a comment in the section below.

markoffaith, Mark of Faith, mark of faith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net

3 steps of an engaging presentation

What does a scenic flight in an aeroplane have to do with presentation skills?  If you reflect on the three stages of giving a presentation, there are a lot of similarities to an aeroplane flight.  There is usually a starting point to any flight the same as there is always an introduction to any talk, speech or presentation.  There are usually a couple of points of interest in any scenic flight, and in any presentation there should be a few points of interest too.  Every scenic flight must come to an end as should a good presentation.

Have you ever heard a talk that never really grabbed your attention?  Perhaps the introduction never got off the ground.  Or perhaps you have heard a talk or speech that went on and on and on; they didn’t know how to “land it”.  So here are three simple tips for giving a great presentation in your ministry setting using the image of an aeroplane flight:

1. The Take off:  When an aeroplane is getting ready to take off it uses the most amount of energy of the entire flight.  When you begin your presentation you will have to use a lot of energy to get the attention of the audience.  If you loose people in the take off you may not get them back, but they are stuck listening to you.  Even if you know your topic really well, you must give some thought to your introduction.

How you can kick off your presentation?

2.  Cruising: when an aeroplane gets into the air it aims for its cruising altitude and then turns down the engines to cruising speed.  An aeroplane doesn’t fly at full speed for the entire flight but cruises at an efficient speed.  In the cruising part of your presentation you might have to come off the energy level a little.  People can’t keep their energy up for the entire presentation so adapt the pace in the middle section.  Just like an aeroplane flight there are usually only two or three points of interest.  In your middle section don’t confuse people with 10 or 15 key points.  You want two or three key points that get you to your destination but add interest along the way.

What are the 2 or 3 key points of your presentation?

3. The Landing:  when an aeroplane takes off it knows where it is going to land.  A long “holding pattern” before landing can be hard for the passengers.  When you are giving a presentation you must know how you are going to land or finish before you begin.  What is your final destination, what is you final point?  Keeping the audience wondering when you are going to finish is not a good idea.

How are you going to finish your presentation?

These are three really simple stages to any presentation.  There is one more thought to add using the aeroplane analogy:
How many planes can a pilot fly at once? 
A pilot can only fly one plane at any given time.  So too you should have one only one key theme each time you present.  Some people will get up and talk for the allotted time, packing in as many themes and topics as they can.  Apart from confusing the audience, each theme is undervalued because it is not explored properly.
So the next time you are giving a presentation, preaching at church, giving a talk to young people or sharing the vision for your ministry remember the key stages:
  • fly one plane (theme)
  • give energy to the take off (introduction)
  • have 2 or 3 points of interest while cruising (body) and
  • nail the landing (conclusion)

markoffaith, MarkofFaith, Mark of Faith, mark of faith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net

How many people does it take to start a youth group?

How many people does it take to change a light bulb? This is often a joke told where the answer gives an insight into a particular stereotype. Whenever I hear this joke, I wondered how many Catholics does it take to start a youth group? Whilst I am sure that there are many humorous answers that we could give if we were telling a joke, the number one issue that people ask me about is how many people do you need to start a youth group?

Let me tell you my answer with a real life story, you may even guess the group.  About five years ago three Catholic young men were interested in starting something in their parish for young people. They wanted to lay a solid foundation for youth ministry in their parish and “get it right” from the start. So they decided to come together every Thursday night for prayer, to ask God for guidance, vision and direction.

Their next step was not to launch into a mega ministry or try to entertain the “youth”, the three young men thought “who can we invite into this group for prayer?” As they added the next person then the next person, the group began to grow. This was training the group in the evangelical spirit which characterises the group today. Not “Evangelical” by denomination but the group has a heart for evangelisation or to put it simply they want to share this with their friends.

Five years later those three young men have gathered 50 or 60 other young people to meet for prayer on a Thursday night. The group looks different from what it did five years ago but the element of prayer is still present. If you ask me what makes this group successful, the prayer element and evangelistic spirit would be it.

Sometimes as an intern, volunteer or youth minister, you may want to copy the program of a successful youth ministry that you admire. Instead copy the heart and culture of the ministry. Many people think that Hillsong is successful because of their music, yet it is the culture of small group discipleship that drives the ministry. Some people might thing the group mentioned above is because they have a supportive Priest, but it is more than that.

So next time you ask yourself how many young people does it take to start a youth group, know that it only takes three.


This post first appeared in February 2010 and people still ask me about how many people it takes to start a Youth Group.

markoffaith, MarkofFaith, Mark of Faith, mark of faith, mrmarkmcdonald, Mark McDonald, markoffaith.net