one thing most of us in student ministry are well aware of – especially during the summer months – is how unpredictable attendance can be. families go away on vacation, some teens are in summer school, sports camps & band camps are in full swing, and some teens just can’t get a ride. we tend to envision big turnouts, plan for high numbers, but then feel discouraged and defeated when the actual number comes in low.
so how do you still do the event without being discouraged? every summer we face this in some form or another, and this question surfaces in my brain a lot.
resist the temptation to think about who’s NOT there.
i’m all for tracking attendance and charting numbers. i have big goals for our sunday morning attendance 2 years from now. but when it’s go time and the event has started, i’ve learned that if i don’t walk in the room forgetting about who’s not there, i’m gonna waste some important opportunities with those who are. if i’m not grateful and thankful for who did show up, the lies of defeat will slither in my mind and try to discourage me.
here are 3 things you can do to help you forget about those who aren’t there:
1. pray through the list of students who are signed up. it’s amazing what happens when we get away and pray. it doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t have to get up before the moon goes away (that aint happening for me)… but just pray.
2. think about their individual stories (and the big voice you have to speak into their life at this event). some of them have had a rough year. some have been in the middle of their parents’ fights. some have endured bad breakups. some have been asking big questions about their identity but haven’t verbalized it to anyone yet. some have just started cutting. some laugh when everyone’s around but cry when they’re alone. some just need a new friend network, and they’re trying your event in order to find that.
3. make it the best event for them that you possibly can. they’ll likely go back to the rest of the group and let them know all that they missed. it’ll make a make a big difference in their life, and other people will see the change. there’s value in simply providing an atmosphere where students can have the time of their life.