I have found that youth are attracted to each other. What I mean by that is if your youth group size is less than 10 it can be hard on a night that only 4 make it. One reason they come to youth group is to see each other and be around other youth. If they perceive “no one showed up” they lose motivation.
Our youth group started to struggle the year we realized there would be only 6 high schoolers left in our church of 125. We prayed and we decided to change our structure. We looked at the middle schoolers and asked ourselves if we could merge these two groups of kids successfully?
What motivates our high schoolers? They like to experience God and they love regional events in our area. Experiencing God for them means they are “doing the stuff”. Youth led worship team, prophetic prayer, and outreaches with other youth rank high on their favorites. The area events give them a chance to gather with other kids, get to know them, and encounter God with passion and excitement. Oh and they love to eat…
Our middle schoolers have a little shorter attention span. They appreciate games more than our high schoolers and some topics aren’t as relevant or appropriate. And, yes they love to eat as well.
How did we successfully merge these groups? We built a leadership team comprised of both middle schoolers and high schoolers. They created goals and a mission statement for our youth group. We empowered them to decide on youth group activities, plan parties, and be responsible for exhibiting the culture they desired. We meet regularly to celebrate wins and work on areas that need improvement. We occasionally have events where we separate the groups. Maturity was an issue with 6th grade boys (I will not lie) and we decided to include only 7th graders. We also created a youth led worship team.
This really gives us an opportunity to encourage mentoring. Another plus is the group grew to 20 and we don’t struggle with a lack of motivation or feelings of no one showing up. The high schoolers have grown in leadership and were surprised to find that occasional games can be fun. Thinking outside the box, doing things differently than what’s been done before, and trusting your teens can help solve motivation problems.