Five ways to grow a successful and healthy youth group

by Lt. Jonathan Cooper

 1.       Focus on quality, not quantity

A small group of deeply, discipled and sanctified teens is much more valuable than a massive spiritually shallow group.  Encouraging your youth group teens to have lives surrendered to Christ, is not only important for them as individuals, but brings about a strong, long-lasting group.

2.       Focus on the teens you have, not the teens you want

There is a temptation to spend more time thinking about growth strategies than working with the teens you have.  The opposite should be the case.  It's much more effective to focus on the teens you already have.  Encourage them.  Disciple them.  Invest in them.  If we're doing discipleship the right way, our teens will begin to desire to draw other people in.  "Sheep make sheep" in a biological sense and a spiritual sense.

3.       Focus on relationships, not events

Teens like to be together.  Sometimes we can have the misconception that events are what fuel our teens' camaraderie. I haven't necessarily found this to be true.  Instead of just planning events, plan opportunities for them to be together.

4.       Focus on being the "third place," not the only place

Realistically, our youth groups are not the center of our teens' universe.  For the most part, teens' daily lives are dominated by time at home with family, school work and responsibilities.  We want our youth groups to be their "third place." Our teens need a place that fosters external community and camaraderie.  Meaning, our youth groups should foster a sense of safety and connectedness. 

5.       Focus on being involved, not leading from afar

Teens are busy-probably more so than we think.  If we want to increase our influence we need to be willing to "infiltrate" the other areas.  Speak with their parents.  Help with their homework.  Go to their soccer game or school play.  Not only is this a good way to get involved with your teens but to engage their families and friends and maybe invite them to the corps.


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