The Future Of Youth Ministry?
But the common denominator for all churches is that change is happening. And these changes will impact not only your ministry to students today, but possibly your future in student ministry.
Here are some of the changes I'm referring to. I wonder how they may affect our youth ministries?
Fewer People Attending Churches
Recent surveys reveal that somewhere around 35% of Americans attend a church on any given Sunday. Knowing that many people tend to over report desired behavior in surveys and the real number of weekly church attenders may be significantly lower. Simply put, percentage wise, the number of people attending church on Sunday is at an all time low.
Less Commitment From Attenders
Twenty years ago, core church members could be counted on to be at church three times a week, practically every week, and casual attendees would come only on Sunday mornings each week. In a new study by Lifeway chairman Thom Rainer, he notes that today, core members attend 75% of services each month and casual attenders go to a Sunday morning worship one time every six weeks.
Added to the fewer number of people attending church these days is the reduction in the amount of money people give to their church. As the older generation continues to passon away, what's left is a younger generation of church members who tend to give less. Shrinking attendance and a smaller percentage of giving means churches will have to deal with smaller and smaller budgets.
The Disappearing Church
Research shows that the mid-size congregation of 200 to 500 is fading. The models that are thriving are the new church plant of less than 100, and the larger or mega churches. As we move forward, this trend looks like it will continue.
The majority of youth ministry jobs in the country are bi-vocational or volunteer. Taking all these trends into account, there is no doubt that there will be even fewer full-time student ministry jobs in the future. There may be a day coming where, for all but a small percentage of youth ministers, a call to student ministry is a call to bi-vocational ministry. While there will most likely always be a certain number of full-time youth ministry positions, it's still not a bad idea to think about expanding your skill set. Churches may have to employ generalists instead of specialists in ministry. Learn as many church skills as possible such as education work, children's work, leading music, administration, and of course preaching.
We are on the eve of a new day for the church in America. What is emerging will be exactly what will be needed to minister to future generations. Think outside the box. Work on your occupational and ministerial skills and you will be in a great position to serve as a student minister in the years ahead.