I meet with a lot of youth pastors who will routinely tell me that their senior pastor, elders, parents, and everyone else at church don’t really care too much about the impact their ministry is making, but instead are only concerned with numbers in the youth group. The youth pastors think this because they are constantly asked about the attendance of their youth ministry, and it seems to frustrate youth pastors a lot.
But have you ever considered that maybe the problem isn’t the senior pastor or the elders or the parents or anyone else in the church who is asking about the youth ministry. Maybe the problem is your communication with these individuals. Think back to the last time someone asked how your ministry was going. Did you respond with something like this: “Thanks for asking Judy. It’s going great! Last night at youth group we had 52 students show up, which is a new record for us. We’re really excited about the momentum we have right now.”
I think that too often people end up asking about numbers because that is what we communicate, or because it’s the only thing they know to ask about. This is why we need to be intentional about how we communicate to others regarding our ministry. At LeaderTreks we have a formula for this plan. It’s called the 30-3-30 Method. It’s not rocket science, and yes, it really does work. We routinely take Refuel Retreat participants through this exercise and have them practice their responses. And we find that when they go back to their churches and start using these methods, it starts to change how people see and ask about the youth ministry.
The basic idea behind it is that you would have a plan for how to communicate what is happening in your ministry in 30 seconds, 3 minutes, and 30 minutes. Obviously the 30 minute conversation is reserved for meetings with the elders or presentations in front of the church council. But it’s common for you to get into 30 second or 3 minute conversations about the youth ministry with others.
The 30 Second Response goes like this:
big picture (or ym mission) + “the why” + student growth story = 30 second response
If you pass each other in church or on the street and they ask how it’s going, have a 30 second response ready — “we are in the middle of our series on character because we want students to know the importance of Godly character, and the small group leaders are saying students are starting to make some changes and growth steps in their integrity. In fact one student told us that it has really been changing the way she talks to her friends at school.” You don’t have much time, but you should be able to tell them the main theme in your ministry while also communicating “the why” behind it and the impact it is having on your students.
If you are able to communicate these simple things to people in 30 seconds or less, and even train your adult volunteers how to do it, it may start to change the way your ministry is viewed. One recent Refuel Retreat participant told us that he started using this technique several months ago and it has caught on like wild fire. So much so that now people ask for growth stories rather than numbers.
Maybe your communication stinks. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way, give this 30 second response a try for several months and see what happens.
To learn more about the 30 Second-3 Minute-30 Minute Response, it’s all described in detail in Doug Franklin’s book The Disconnect.