Mark Devries is a pretty sweet guy, I won’t lie. Hanging out before the session started, and his teaching throughout….there was evidence of a fruit-filled life, and a man who has been/is involved in Kingdom building deeply. He was talking about a working model for family based youth ministry.
First, he talked about the danger of “terminal vagueness” when we don’t set goals/pay attention to facts in our ministries. He listed some “norms” from national studies of youth groups. Not recommendations, models, or problems…just simply what the averages were across the board. Here are a few:
1. Most churches spend around $1,000 per teen, including salary package for youth pastor.
2. Churches generally have 1 staff member for every 50 members.
3. Youth Groups usually run around 10% of the worshipping congregation attendance.
4. Often there is a ceiling around 20% of the worshipping congregation that youth groups cannot easily crack. Some that do are often the only youth group in town, or one of a few.
5. Usually 1 volunteer for every 5 kids.
6. 30 Teens are averaged when a youth group combines JR and SR highs. When divided, each of those groups will usually average 30 a piece.
He had a very well developed diagram, that described how youth ministry often removes teenagers from the natural flow from childhood to mature Christian adulthood…in order to meet them in today’s culture, which is pushing them the opposite direction. God calls us to minister within the context of that flow. He talked about Kara Powell and “Sticky Faith“.
Very important to remember from his session, was the fact that the #1 predictor of whether a teen continues with Christianity post high school to becoming a mature Christian adult = How many close relationships they have with Godly adults. Parents, grandparents, influential people at church, family friends, relatives, elders, etc.
A youth pastor, in regards to the above, must become a “relationship architect” of sorts. “Youth Ministry is always a veiled excuse to connect teens with Godly adults.”, Devries says. Our jobs as youth pastors and as parents, is to call out the coming victory before any visible evidence appears. We need to connect the young with other older people who will relate to them in such a way, toward and with Jesus Christ.