playing for 9...

A few years ago, I was at a small church in Dadeville, AL. I had just started and I was so excited to be at a bigger church from my first church. I was hitting the ground running. I did all I could to build a stage for the praise band. I got a screen and projector put in. I bought sound equipment. I did awesome games to bring more and more "fringe students" into the church.

After a few months, I started to develop good relationships with students in the area, the students that were already a part of my ministry and the other local youth minister in the area. After talking with my mentor, I decided that I needed to do something BIG to bring in the crowds to the church. So I called around and finally found an AMAZING Christian Rock Band (which really, no one has ever heard of).

I called them and worked the deal of a century! They would come out and do a concert for only $400! That was WELL within my budget! I also called a friend of mine who was a speaker and he would come in and give a talk in the middle. I had the WHOLE event  planned out. I rented lights!  I ordered concert tickets that looked like REAL concert tickets! I even rented a fog machine!

The only place that we could have this AMAZING concert, that was going to be packed FULL of people was in the sanctuary of the church. So we moved the pulpit and the alter table. We moved the chancel rail as well. We had the fog machine hooked up and ready to go along with the lights! And I had 4 weeks to promote the HECK out of this event! I made fliers for my students to hand out at school. Posted posters in local places. Even got them to announce it every week at the high school AND middle school!

I followed the guidelines to a T. I had crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's. The night of the event finally came! After hanging out with the band, talking with the speaker, I went UPSTAIRS to the sanctuary to open the doors! I was expecting there to be a line outside and around the corner. I opened the doors and no one was there.

I looked around outside and it was only 30 minutes before the concert! Finally I see some cars pull in. At 7:30, the band went on. There was ONLY 9 people there. 4 of them were the band and the fifth one was the speaker. Four total people in the audience. Where did I go wrong?

Too often, we can rely on the gimmicks of trying to top other ministries and churches. We get in the race of trying to show people we can be great and it's all for Jesus. Why don't we ever stick more to the gospel and less on our own attributes and ideas? I was able to justify this concert by the fact that it was a Christian band and going for a great cause!

After a while, we see a stagnant youth ministry if we keep doing event based models. We focus on how we can do bigger and better, then once the ideas stop, you scramble and have a concert for only 4 people! We HAVE to find ways to have our students be nourished.

To me, I don't see much nourishment in the event based ministry. After you reach a peak, you may plataue or fall down hard because you can't meet demand. Youth ministry is not based on how many fringe students walk in the door. Youth ministry is about making and developing disciples that are well nourished and raised in the gospel to go out and be a sign post that points others to Jesus!

Comment below on some MAJOR mishaps you have made in the past or share some concerns with others so we can collaobarate and encourage one another!


Vicki Ashby said...

your honesty is awesome. Wish more people in ministry could be the same but you seem to have learned so much from this experience. Keep the focus where it needs to be, on what the LORD has planned for your group and there are no flops in ministry.

Shannon Karafanda said...

I enjoyed the same massive flop as you in August of last year. I finally realized that my current church doesn't really want to "do" concert type of events. They'll go to one as a road trip but one at the church is boring. Would have worked well at my other churches. Each one is different. Just like my kids.

Tony said...

My let downs didn't come on the nights of the events but on the weeks that followed. We did all the right stuff as far as follow up but we either went back to normal or sometimes less. I have learned instead of doing one huge night why night do 4 weeks of something special? I don't mean spending a huge amount of money every week but if you have an event budget of $500 divide it up all 4 weeks. When we do this we not only see our numbers go up but some actually stick. My mentor does 3 big Wednesdays in the Summer and has a great amount of success. The thing is those 3 big Wednesdays are not in a row but 1 a month.
I still see the need for events but I think there is better ways to do them. Just haven't found the secret sauce as of yet. If anyone does please share:)

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