Can we just be honest?
At the big event we get the shot that shows the room is full… but we just know how to angle it and make it seem packed.
There is always that fine line of being genuinely excited for what God is doing in your ministry and bragging for people to see how awesome a leader you are that you lead such a great event.
I’ve done it. I’ve posted that picture. I’ve stated the attendance. I was legitimately excited to see what God is doing, but when I see others post I have a negative thought in my head. Why is that? I think it’s because we are human and we naturally compare. Josh Griffin’s words when we worked together at Saddleback has stayed in my head even now, “When you compare, you lose.” I think it’s true.
Big numbers. Whoop-dee-doo.
I think big events are great. I think they create momentum and energy but they are nothing to be super pumped about. I want them in my ministry. We just had a big Fall Kick Off where students invited their friends who don’t go to church to come check it out. We had over 500 students show up. I tell my team all of the time, “Anyone can get big numbers. We can advertise free beer and wings and students from all walks of life would come. The most important number is the week after.” How many of those students will come back after they heard about this guy named Jesus and had some fun? That is the number I am interested most.
Like I said, big numbers are fun for an event, but if that event doesn’t draw the first time students to come back then what have we really done? Created a fun gathering, not an opportunity for life change. The goal of big events is to expose students to what your ministry and Jesus has to offer them and have them be excited to come back because there saw something different in your ministry (hopefully the attitude of Jesus) and they wanted more of it.
The most important number is not the number at the event; it’s the number the weeks after.
How many students came to check it out and then wanted to come back and see more? Our team does not do stand alone events anymore (events that do not take place on our service night). We don’t think it returns a good number of students who follow up. We have always seen students come for the event and then never to be seen at a service. So all events are attached to our service night, usually taking place after. This way, they see what a service is like, hear about Jesus, have some fun afterwards and gives them a little taste of what true Godly community is like.
The ROI (Return On Investment) is way higher.
So it’s easy to get big numbers, but what are you doing to make sure you count the numbers that matter more for the weeks that follow? I think those are the numbers that we should be interested in the most.
**This post was originally on the Download Youth Ministry blog.
Justin Knowles has been a pastor for the last 10 years and is the Lead Student Ministries Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees 7th-12th grade and has an amazing team he does it all with. He hosts The Other Student Ministry Podcast, loves to write about his ministry journey and teach at all kinds of camps. Him and his wife Kristin has a baby boy named Graham and a cat named CATalie Portman. @JUSTINKNOWLES3