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3 Things to do When Young People Disappear from Youth Ministry

3 Things to do When Young People Disappear from Youth Ministry
Wednesday 31st July 2019

As a youth pastor, there was always a mix of young people who walked through the door. Those we expected to see because they are a regular part of the community over the years. Those who are invited along by a friend. And those who seemingly had no previous connection with our youth ministry, our church, or anyone who attended. 

But what about the other side of the equation? 

What about those who stop attending a youth ministry? 

What about those who seemingly disappear? 

What I mean is the young people who were once a regular part of the youth community and its activities, but then, seemingly for no reason at all, stop attending? 

Young people rarely disappear from a youth ministry.

I’ll say it again. 

Young people rarely disappear from a youth ministry.

For sure they stop coming, but they rarely just disappear. 

There’s more than likely a reason for a change in their engagement. Perhaps it’s a new commitment that collides with the program - sport, work or a new relationship.

Perhaps it was a falling out with a friend, a youth leader, or even you the youth pastor.

Some of the reasons are very much out of your control, but many are not. 

So what do you do about these young people who seem to disappear from youth ministry?

1. Pray

We know prayer is always the answer, but when was the last time you prayed for the young people who stopped attending? The bigger, and more complicated the ministry the harder this can be. But what to pray? Be sure to pray for their safety, their friendships, their family, but pray that God might get their attention in some way and remind them of who He is and all He has done for them 

2. Ask 

Ask questions of their friends and if they know what’s going on or why they stopped coming along. Ask others in the youth leadership team and the families in the church who had connections with them what they know. Ask the youth pastor at the church down the road if they’ve started attending there. 

3. Contact

Contact can happen in many different forms - a personal letter, a flyer about an upcoming event, a post on social media that includes them in some communal sense. If none of these yield and response, perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone and put a call into a parent. 

Our response to those who disappear from our youth ministries matters theologically because in this we demonstrate the character of God.

What is your response to those who have disappeared? 

Has your lack of contact or concern inadvertently told a young person that God is not interested in them? 

Secondly, our response to those who disappear from our youth ministries matters practically because we might learn a few things about our current approach to youth ministry that will make us more effective in the future.

May you chase after those who disappear from your youth ministry, and not simply continue to encourage young people to be inviting their friends along. 

Steve Dixon

Written by Steve Dixon

Steve is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry Studies at Morling. Steve has a passion to see the local church be effective in its ministry for and with the next generation. He also works with the Baptist Association of Churches in NSW and ACT to support and equip churches in their youth and young adult ministries’

Steve Dixon's Blog

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