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Small Church Youth Ministry: Wear It With Pride

The church where I was first introduced to Jesus had about 80 people each Sunday morning. There were about six students in the student ministry. The staff consisted of a senior pastor, a minister of youth and music (don't even get me started on that one!), and a secretary. Everything else was led and administered by lay church members. Even the cleaning.

Our student ministry Sunday School class was a tiny blank room down a long blank hallway. Kirk, the student pastor, taught the class. He wasn't a great teacher. He was incredibly smart (in fact he could sing Amazing Grace in 6 languages . . . impressive, huh?), but just didn't teach very dynamically. There was no projector or sound system . . . no PowerPoint or MediaShout. Wednesday nights, we met in Kirk's living room and just talked about the Bible and how to live a life that pleased Christ.

The amazing thing about Kirk is that anytime we had an idea based on what we were learning, he would look at one of us and simply say, "Make it happen." I'm not sure if he was intentionally making us take these responsibilities in order to train us, or if he just didn't have time to deal with it between his church responsibilities and his other, full-time job. Regardless of his motivation, it did something pretty amazing: It forced us to do the work of the ministry instead of merely experiencing the work of the minister. We learned how to plan, promote, and pull off pretty large-scale ministry projects.

Now, 13 years later, every single person that was in that student ministry with me is actively involved in a local church. Two of us are in full time ministry. Between the six of us, hundreds of people have come to know Christ as their Savior; one person, one life at a time.

If you're a student pastor of a smaller church, whether you're full time or part time, never underestimate the impact you're having on this generation and future generations. 

The one or two deep relationships you form, the one or two families that you help to solidify their role as primary faith influencers, the one or two conversations you have sitting on your couch with a student who's absolutely at the end of their rope really do matter. Your words and work will echo throughout eternity.

As tempting as it is, run away as fast as you can from playing the numbers comparison game. Yes, there may be a church down the road that can offer things you can't. They might have a staff of dozens working in every age group and every wing of the church, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're having a better impact than you.

God has uniquely gifted and gathered His people into local congregations. Just as He has gifted each believer, I believe He uniquely gifts local congregations. You're filling a need that only you can fill. Don't let envy or pride get in the way of the faith tsunami that God wants to begin through your small step of obedience. 


Share your thoughts with the youthministry360 community:




  • Are you a youth leader in a small church? What is the biggest specific challenge you face?

  • Are you a youth leader in a medium or large-sized church? When was the last time you considered reaching out to engage with the small church youth leader in your community?


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