As we are wrapping up the summer vacation, it’s important to remember that our students become more and more busy as they mentally prepare to return to school for the new year. Rising juniors may have things like impending graduation tests on their mind, and rising seniors are increasingly aware that it’s their last year at school. As a result of this busyness, it’s not uncommon for our youth group numbers to decrease.

Don’t get discouraged by inconsistency in your few’s attendance at youth group. Our job as SGLs is to be a consistent force for our few, and being present with your small group can mean many things. To be present doesn’t even mean that you have to be physically with your students. When you are present with your few, they don’t even have to be at youth group.

Now, we’re not suggesting that you stop showing up! Of course, be present at youth group. Consistency on your part shows them that they can count on us to be at youth group when they decide they “have enough time” to actually come.

But being present goes beyond showing up physically.

It may seem silly, but commenting on their social media posts just to let them know you care about them is another easy but powerful way to be present. A simple “Missed you last night” or “I hope you’re having a great vacation” comment is a great way to show one of your few that you care.

During the school year, it also means sending them a message on Tuesday when you know they have a big test. This little bit of encouragement can go a really long way. Just having a positive interaction before a test can alter their mindset as they take the test. That could be huge!

Being present means showing up at their summer pool party if you’re invited and their softball game or their band concert (even for just the last inning or 15 minutes) when school is back in session. I’m not saying you lie and tell them you saw their big hit in the 3rd inning or their jazz flute solo when you didn’t. What I am saying is that the simple act of coming to their event and telling them they are great shows how much you care about them and is throwing heaps of relational equity into the Bank of SGL.

I want our ministries to be ministries that gauge success by the growth and trajectory in our students lives rather than by the attendance numbers at youth group. Although we would all love to see 100 students every week, I would much rather see a group of students that are developing into lifelong believers. I would much rather see a group who not only drive their own faith but push their friends to the same and invite others to be a part as well.

Take heart, friends! Your few may be physically invisible in the next few months. Just remember that you don’t have to be. Be present in the lives of your few—especially when they seem to be checking out.

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Johnathan Baldwin

Johnathan is a student ministries pastor from Indiana who loves youth ministry, sports, summertime, great coffee (depending on the situation, not so great coffee works too), my dog (Marcie), and as of lately a good book. Over the past couple years, Johnathan has felt a growing passion for guiding and empowering leaders to lead students. He believes that if we call people to greatness, they will achieve greatness.

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