**I want to preface this post by saying that all of what I’m about to say in this goes almost directly against what I was taught when I was training to be a youth pastor.
I think the old line of thinking went something like this: ”Put everything on the bottom shelf for your students so that your ministry will grow bigger and then… once you have them there… then progress them deeper. Because the deeper your ministry is in the beginning, the smaller it will be.” Okay, it was never specifically stated that way, but you and I both know that it was sort of implied. Today we call that “Bait & Switch.”
In the last 3-4 years though, I have noticed a trend: The older students got, the more they checked out of youth ministry. Now, this isn’t a new trend at all, but it is one that is widely reported. It is not uncommon to see a big freshman class and a minuscule senior class. I was (and to be honest still am) a little bewildered by this statistic. I suspect that some of this has to do with the fact that we offer our seniors pretty much the same messages and same programming and same challenges and same games and same everything as we offer our freshman. But if you think back to your senior year in High School (for some of us that was a LONG time ago ) you’ll probably remember that when you were under-challenged… YOU CHECKED OUT TOO! (It’s called “senioritis” for a reason)
But what if we aggressively went after this trend? What if we got really intentional about our ministries and got deeper as students got older? What if a students senior year was the best year in your youth ministry? What if you offered opportunities that only applied to Seniors and not the rest of your ministry? I feel like the more we challenge students as they get older, the more they will rise to the level you set, the longer they will stay in your ministry, and the more they will grow… and I think we all know that when you have a great group of seniors, you’ll likely have a great group overall.
What if Going Deeper Means Growing Stronger?