As I have said before, I LOVE numbers. Actually, my profession is in numbers. I love crunching, analyzing, and projecting them. I’m not sure why, but I feel like my brain loves the challenge of finding the right answer and there is always an answer when it comes to numbers.You may already wonder where this is going, but stick with me, I promise I have a point!
You see, I am trying to change a habit. First thing my mind goes to when measuring anything – a basketball game, a vacation, or the success of a youth event is — What was the score? How much does it cost? How many youth attended? I think that is pretty normal. We tend to measure success quantitatively.
I want to write about the last one though – How many youth attended? That is the habit I am trying so hard to change. Recently, I took on a youth-group leadership role at my church. A group of adults have been meeting regularly to discuss where God is leading us in encouraging our youth.
As I have mentioned before, this past summer I went to New Orleans for our triennial national youth gathering. It’s the first time I had ever participated in something like that and it was fantastic. My favorite session was in regards to youth ministry – moving from event-based to relationship-based concepts. From what I gather, this is a newish idea. Instead of having a bunch of youth events, adults start to invest in the lives of the youth. I could go on forever about this subject but I’ll save that for another time. I do know I was sold on this idea. The impact can be so much greater when you start to build a relationship versus when you hold an event, send them home, and never scratch the surface of who they are.
I’ve brought this idea back to my church and people are on board and excited to see where God will lead us. I’ve started a small group huddle with a few teenagers and it is everything I had hoped it would be. It’s so exciting to live alongside and support them, to see where their interests lie, to see how God is working in their life, and to pray for the things that bring them stress.
BUT… there is a big BUT here. I still find myself measuring success in numbers. That is EXACTLY what we want to get away from. When talking to people about how a recent youth gathering went, my first response…. “We had 6 but it was still great!” UGH! In that moment I wanted to take it back so badly. Especially the “but”. I measured the success based solely on the numbers.
I wanted to rewind that instant so badly and give an answer like, “We had a wonderful time! The youth all enjoy and care for one another. The adults interacted, laughed with, and encouraged the youth, it was all around a great experience.” That is an accurate picture of where we want to go. Stories instead of headcounts.
It doesn’t matter if we had 1 or 21 youth. If just ONE youth got to know just ONE adult, that is God working. I know habits are hard to break and this is hard work, but I am committed to it! I want to encourage this shift and changing the way I speak about success is a good start.
It’s not always about the numbers. Sometimes, it’s never about them.