Breaking the “Small Church Mentality”: Just Be You
Thought #15 in Stephanie Caro’s 99 Thoughts for Smaller Church Youth Workers quotes one of her good friends, Keith White, a youth pastor in Georgia. Keith thinks back to his teenage years:
“Growing up in a small church with a small youth group, relationships were all that we had. Today, the group I work with is much larger, with full-on light-and-sound experience. From knowing how incredible those relationships were growing up, smaller groups and relationships have formed out of our larger group. Years from now, I don’t want the youth of today to remember how great the lights were. I want them to tell me that I made a difference in their lives, like the difference so many people made in my life years ago.”
The challenge for many of us as “smaller church youth workers” is that we want to be like the bigger churches. We want the unlimited resources. We like to imagine the hundreds of youth pouring into our doors for youth group with lights and music pulsing in the background. We long to be the youth programs that have too many sponsors and are forced to turn some away from events or weekly programs.
Stephanie Caro writes, “Kill the phrase, ‘but we’re just a small church.’” Salivating over and longing to be another ministry is idolatry. God has given us all a ministry regardless of the size, resources, and volunteers. We are called to reach out and form relationships with the flock God has placed before us. The blessings of small church youth ministry are huge! You have the opportunity to know each of your youth by name and the opportunity to invest in their lives individually. Our ministries – big and small – are focused on relationships. Frequently, we measure growth numerically, but also through healthy relationships that stem from a relationship rooted in Christ. As a youth worker you have an opportunity that many cannot claim. We are called, challenged, prodded and dropped into a ministry not by accident, but purposefully placed. My prayer is that we live into our calling where we are and give our attention to those five, ten or fifty youth that are looking for a mentor, a minister, and a friend.
Kill the phrase, “but we’re just a small church.” Just be you.
Stephanie's book can be purchased online through Group.
Caro, Stephanie. 99 Thoughts for Smaller Church Youth Workers: Doing More with Less. Loveland, CO: Group Pub. : Simply Youth Ministry, 2011. Print.