January 30, 2014
I am the youth ministry director at a campus plant. We are about 13 weeks into our life together as a church. Pretty exciting, but it pales in comparison to the 3,016 weeks that our first campus, affectionately called the “mothership,” has been in action.
Every week—sometimes in the middle of a game involving moving an Oreo from my forehead to my mouth without my hands—I do the perfectly normal thing for a ministry leader to do: I take a quick head count.
These have been some my numbers the past couple weeks:
In my previous life I was a social media analyst, so the week we had 7 students, I took pride in saying we had experienced 133% growth!
But the numbers were down the following week. And the week after that. I hung my head and secretly considered scrapping our Wednesday night youth program. But that was until Steven piped up.
Steven and his wife are on the youth ministry leadership team at our campus. They are relatively new to the area and have gotten involved in the life of the church through our campus plant. One evening, I was having a conversation I had had before about “our strategy for growth,” and Steve said, “I wish we would stop talking about the numbers…It’s worth being here even for one student.”
Duh! And the Lord spoke. And I kicked myself.
In my days as a social media analyst, I had created reports that helped brands understand their success on Facebook. I had walked marketers through all the different metrics that I would report on: Likes, Comments, Clicks, Shares, Friends of Fans, People Talking About, Reach, Impressions, Fans by Country, Fans by Age Group…just to name a few.
Most brands, by default, tracked the Likes metric. This was a perfectly normal thing for a marketer to measure.
But, I had noticed that the smart marketers zeroed in on metrics better suited to their business. For instance, one brand measured clicks because as far as their business was concerned, people liking their Facebook page didn’t matter as much as people clicking into their online store and actually making a purchase.
In my ministry, I, by default, had been tracking Likes. And though perfectly normal, my head count was the wrong way to measure youth ministry growth.
So now, I keep attendance. The difference is slight, but the implications immense.
Instead of measuring the high level mass of warm bodies that have given youth group/church/God a tacit Like by being in the room, I am measuring for depth of engagement with God.
And you know what finding a better, more godly metric has done?
It has taken my focus away from seeing my kingdom grow, and has helped me see the incredible work that God has been up to in developing His Kingdom.
So, these have been my real numbers the past couple weeks:
7+ deep, authentic conversations about faith and spiritual matters
3 new students drawn into a warm community of faith
5 students serving in the larger church body
10 sessions discussing the redemptive, providential work of God unfolding in history
And suddenly, I don’t care as much if we have 3 students or 30.
Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.
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January 28, 2014
You are the One we called Father through the ages.
The Father of our fathers and their fathers and theirs.
You are the One who was before,
extending Your vast Self infinitely in all directions of time.
It is You who have outlast our every fear and every fortune.
You are the One standing at the dawn of time with limitless history behind You
and an eternity of days before You.
So it is to You we call when we sense our time-bound selves
have come to the end of ourselves,
because only You never will.
Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.
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