Guest Article By Dean Morris
Imagine taking over a youth program that is 40 students, the congregation is happy with the ministry, and parents are happy to have a place for their children to connect with other Christians. Sounds like a pretty awesome youth group, right? I mean, come on now, you are taking over a healthy, vibrant youth group that is 40 students!
Now fast forward 3 months. As you sit back and look, your youth group is over 100 students, your teens are being discipled, you’ve seen over 200 salvations through the youth service and evangelism outreaches. You are making waves throughout your community and city. All of a sudden, the talk has gone from “we have a healthy youth group” to “these teenagers are impacting a city.”
I know exactly what you are thinking, “ who is this dude…. there must be a gimmick… ok, fine, he is going to try to sell me some of his product… this can’t be true… I could never do that…” If that describes you, then I am ecstatic to be sharing this with you. If you are reading this, you can experience growth in your ministry that you have only dreamed of, and quickly!
I have seen God take a youth group from 40 to 100 in less than 3 months, with over 200 teenagers coming to know Him! Here are the methods that were used to grow our youth ministry beyond my wildest dreams.

cracking up

The World of Social Networking: If you don’t get it, it will get you!

Let’s face it, today’s teenagers are engrossed with media. You may not think so, but I can promise you that the majority of teenagers revolve their lives around what others are doing and what others think about them. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (yes taking pictures and letting people comment on them is huge) are either going to be your best friend or your biggest downfall.
Use these social networks to promote and connect with your teens! We make events on Facebook for every single sermon series and extra activity; we are reaching thousands of students for FREE in minutes! What could be better than that? Encourage your students and leaders (and some of the cool parents might do this to) to “check in” via Facebook every time they come to your youth group. If a teenager is seeing a bunch of people checking into the same spot, they are going to be curious, and check it out for themselves.
Don’t forget Instagram and Twitter! What’s that, you don’t like Twitter or don’t have time for it; me either. I have found the best way for me to personally connect with the social networking world is through Instagram. Check it out! And the best thing is you can link your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter. For those of you that are new to this, that means that you reaching out on all three networks in the matter of seconds!
(If you have questions on how to use or get started on social media, simply ask a teenager.)


Engaging the ADD Generation

ADD… Attention Deficit Disorder… the three words that will haunt a youth pastor. You see, even if a teen doesn’t actually have ADD, our culture has created a sense of ADD within them. You may be asking what I mean by this. Well, take a look around. Everybody is attached to their cell phone, especially the smart phones (oh and by the way, the coolest people are rocking iPhones). And what about when you watch TV? Have you ever noticed that there are 8-10 minutes of actual TV (with constantly changing scenes) and then 3 minutes of commercials. This is done on purpose to captivate attention.
It’s time for you and your group to captivate attention! In our youth group, we never have more than ten minutes of the same thing going on; we even try to switch things up every 7 minutes. You might be saying, “well, I like to preach for 30 minutes.” I’m glad you are thinking that, because I do preach for 30 minutes! However, try utilizing media, testimony, and different preaching methods. Our youth group is known for our “illustrated messages” and more details on those will come in another article.


Justin Bieber, Culture, and Wait….Did He Just Say Justin Bieber?

Guess what? Teenagers love culture. You may cringe at the thought of this, but the majority of your teenagers love watching Jersey Shore and listening to Lil Wayne. As the church, we need to embrace culture! Now, I’m not saying to compromise, whatever you do don’t compromise! I would never allow Lil Wayne to be played at our youth group, and I would never allow Jersey Shore to be shown! What I mean by embrace culture is there are alternatives to these.
Create an atmosphere that teenagers will love! You can do this simply by playing music. And don’t use old style Gospel music! Try playing Lecrae (a Christian rapper) or Hillsong United, depending on your demographic of students. Embrace lighting, the arts, and music…. It will take you far, at least in the eyes of the teenager.


Disciples Making Disciples Making Disciples Making Disciples…

If you aren’t making disciples, you simply are not doing your job. That sounds harsh I know, but the last thing Jesus said on earth was to make disciples. Think about this thought: Jesus had 12 disciples (ofcourse we know about Judas and replacing him) that flipped the world upside down. Jesus, yes Jesus, spent 3 years training up these guys and then sent them out to radically revolutionize the world, in which the effects are still being felt over 2,000 years later.
Find a way to make disciples. Small group are extremely valuable at creating disciples. We have every adult leader take 2-3 students and their goal is to disciple those students. Pray, encourage, grow. Those are the three words that we stress. Making a disciple is not an overnight process. For more information on this, I recommend the book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples” by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving.


Embrace Your Gift…. Oh yeah, and the Gifts of the Leaders Around You

Never try to be somebody that you’re not! Teenagers will read right through you, and so will the parents! God has gifted you with a unique gift so embrace it! If God has given you a sense of humor, use it! If He has given you deep intellectual thought, share that with others. If He has given you a creative side (and creativity is crucial in growing a group), embrace the arts and let the creative juices start flowing!
Whatever you do, don’t forget your team! All of the adult leaders that you have (and if you don’t have an adult leadership team, get one quickly!) will have different gifts and think differently. Brainstorm together, pray together, embrace each others’ differences, and watch what God does!


Final Thought: Cultivate an Atmosphere of Worship and His Presence

Let’s face the facts: If you have a youth group of 1,000 and no lives are being changed, you might as well just quit and go work another job. All of these discussed, don’t mean anything without the presence of God. The presence of God is what will bring life change and will be your number one growing attraction. Teens are crying out for help and wanting change so when they experience Jesus, they will be back with a van full of friends.
Cultivate an atmosphere of worship, with the adults and your teen leaders leading the charge and setting an example. Don’t neglect prayer, in fact make it your number one priority throughout the week because ultimately we are doing this for Jesus and need him to successfully grow our youth ministries!


  • Richard Izuchukwu
    Posted November 6, 2013 6:09 pm 0Likes

    Its very nice seeing this post on the net.Really i have waiting to get some tips on hw to grow my youth ministry and i jst got this to say…Thanks alot for these special concepts

  • Oluwafemi Adeoye
    Posted December 12, 2013 3:02 pm 0Likes

    thanks a lot your article rally hlp just starting a youth ministry myself and will use your ideas.

  • Mike
    Posted March 10, 2014 7:13 am 0Likes

    Appreciate the legit article, Dean. I’m in this position right now. Cheers, mate.

  • Loretta Cherry
    Posted September 8, 2014 9:34 am 0Likes

    Loved this article. It gives me good ideas for our New Education Education Team.
    Looking forward to reading more.

  • Hannah
    Posted February 5, 2015 12:00 am 0Likes

    It is an awesome article, its inspired me to do different things in youth group.My name is Hannah Yousaf, i’m missionary in Thailand working with youth.It is good to see how you guys working with youth. God bless you

  • Debbi
    Posted February 5, 2015 11:10 pm 0Likes

    Hey Hannah,
    We are always excited to know youth are being reached with the Gospel the world round.
    Glad this article inspired you. If there is anything we can do to be a
    blessing to you, please let us know.
    God bless you too.

  • Mathuto
    Posted March 4, 2015 2:18 am 0Likes

    Thank you very much. This article is very insightful.
    Thank You
    God Bless you

  • Debbi
    Debbi Witt
    Posted March 6, 2015 3:57 pm 0Likes

    Thanks. We are glad this was a blessing to you.
    Blessings~ Debbi

  • dave
    Posted April 13, 2015 4:54 pm 0Likes

    hmmm. I am a little on the fence with this article, you see there are a lot of factors that can contribute to “growth” and what worked in your situation may not work in another. I am also curios to know about the demographics of the church, did it experience rapid growth too, did the area grow suddenly, are there other factors involved? Maybe a large church down street experienced a mass exodus of people, or maybe a youth pastor in the area quit at the same time you were just getting started etc. Then most important – what was the roll of the Holy Sprit in this process?
    I have nothing against the things mentioned in the article – they’re pretty basic student ministry things. Though more detail on the ADD section would be nice – how do you change things every 7 minutes? But even with that piece of information, there is no guarantee that a ministry will grow. In Western churches the norm is that a student ministry is 10% of the churches population. If you have a church of 200 in a community of 1000, you’ll never have a student ministry of 500, the math just doesn’t add up.
    So focus on doing the things you know God has gifted you and equipped you to do, and leave the results to Him.

  • David
    Posted May 14, 2015 11:47 pm 0Likes

    Love this article. I was a youth pastor at a mega church and God has now called me to another much smaller church where I only have 10 youth members. I have now been their three weeks and am slowly making these very changes. I took the youth out in the local community this week door to door inviting people to church. This sparked a desire of outreach in my youth. This article is right on this is how you grow a youth group. I will come back in three months and let you know how my numbers have grown from 10 to the new number.

  • Tenaj
    Posted September 17, 2015 8:37 am 0Likes

    Thank you for sharing. If all people could do this to assist each other it would make it so easy for those that are a starting out.
    May God bless you and bless the labour of your hands after all we are working to the same goal which is ordained by God Almighty.

    • Debbi
      Debbi Witt
      Posted September 20, 2015 8:34 am 0Likes

      Thanks for your input. We have much work to do and coming together, we can see the
      kingdom increased for God. God bless you as you serve Him.

  • Pst. Yabvou Barnabas
    Posted April 19, 2016 8:49 am 0Likes

    This article is awesome and needs to be posted into the older folks to see the glimpse of light for change among younger ones.

    Posted January 1, 2019 11:30 pm 0Likes

    Nice article,but hw do I use social media to connect to other teens and concerning the ADD,I think u should throw more light on it.During worship,hw do I create an atmosphere for his presence,and hw do I make my teens connect.

    Posted January 1, 2019 11:35 pm 0Likes

    Nice article.How do I create an effective atmosphere of worship and how do I make my teens connect.And how would I use social media to reach other teens.And I would like you to throw more light on ADD.Thanks

  • Pastor Sheldon Williams
    Posted March 12, 2019 7:27 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for the inspiring article. This article has motivated me and ignited my passion for youth ministry. I’m in the process of starting a youth ministry in the US, which will stretch out to many nations around the world. WE are believing God for the increase while we put together the strategies using our gifts. Thank you so much for your article. I’m grateful!
    Stay blessed!
    Pastor Sheldon Williams
    Global Rescue Ministries International, USA

  • kaitlyn
    Posted September 25, 2019 11:20 pm 0Likes

    hey so my church just got a new inexperienced youth pastor he is a great guy but doesn’t know a thing about running a youth group so he was asking one day for advice and our input on how to grow as a group, as of yesterday we only have about 7 students (me included) and i feel like we need more people but i don’t even want to invite people because the group kinda sucks as of right now, i have been tempted to leave because i have been really struggling with my faith and our youth group isn’t helping at all. Now i feel pressured because the youth group has the potential to be great but as off now i (a 14 year old girl struggling with her faith) am the only one who is willing to put in the effort. so i have been putting together a list of things that will help us grow and your article is helping me back up my points so thank you

    • Debbi
      Debbi Witt
      Posted January 5, 2020 7:05 pm 0Likes

      Hey Kaitlyn, Checking in to see how you and your youth group are doing. Just saw this comment this month. Sorry.
      Email me at Let’s see if we can help you.

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