Over on Facebook, I’m part of an amazing fellowship with four other Christian girls who love to get creative online. Hannah is one of those girls and is a constant source of inspiration, particularly on Pinterest. She blogs over at tansquaredyouthministry.com, where she shares everything she has learnt from running a youth ministry with her husband. However, developing their ministry hasn’t come without discouragement and disappointment. She’s been kind enough to share some of her thoughts on overcoming discouragement as a woman of God. She’s also included a special gift for those of you who share her heart for youth ministry.
Hi friends! I’m Hannah, and I write a blog about Youth Ministry over here. I’m from a lil’ country called New Zealand, and along with my husband (Charles) run a Youth Ministry which we started from scratch about two years ago now. It’s been such a great adventure for us and something we love more the more we do it! We were privileged to see it grow from 3 students to 40 in the first year (crazy, I know) and it’s safe to say we’ve had a lot of ups and downs in that time. Today I want to share something important that we learned early in our journey, and it’s especially important if you’re a leader of a small group (like we were).
How to overcome discouragement.
First, allow me to share some of our story. Charles and I got married in early 2014, and decided to take a short break from serving in church whilst we figured out what area we wanted to serve in. Before that I had been involved in creative & children’s ministries, and he had been involved in the media & tech side of things. But when we got married we felt it would be more beneficial, efficient, and honouring towards each other if we could serve in a ministry together.
At the time our church didn’t have many connect groups running. We’d both had amazing experiences with connect groups in the past so decided we’d start one, too! We went for a student/young adult group, with the idea being to unite the 15 or so students/young adults in church already. So 2 months into marriage, we started our connect group!
It started off really well. We had all 15 people turn up the first time we met. Then 7. Then 5. 3.. 1.. By the third month there was actually only one person coming along. It was so discouraging seeing all those people drop out, especially since they’d all been so keen to start with! But we said we’d still do something even if 1 person showed up. So we continued our connect group each week.
A couple of months later we decided to include high school students in our group, seeing as some of them were interested. By the end of the year there were 3 boys coming along (although not all on the same night) and all the original young adult group had disappeared!
From the outside our connect group looked like a huge failure. And like I said before, it was really discouraging seeing everyone leave. For quite a few months both Charles and I felt frustrated and began to lose our enthusiasm for our connect group too. But we had to learn an important lesson in overcoming discouragement! Those nights when only one person would turn up to our connect group I’d often think “why can’t we just cancel tonight? There’s only one person so what’s the point!” But because we didn’t cancel we learned how to overcome discouragement without getting bitter, and these are things we often come back to when feeling discouraged.
If we’d canceled those nights we’d never have gotten to know that one person.
True story. If we’d canceled because only one person decided to come we’d have missed a huge golden opportunity! The opportunity to build relationship, to encourage, to pray, to share the Gospel. That one person had our whole attention, so it was not a moment to be wasted. Jesus shared parables with us that highlight the importance of the One (think the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son from Luke 15.
That one person was struggling with study, needed encouragement, and really appreciated we opened our home to him. He’s now one of our leaders at Youth, and a very faithful one, too! Imagine if we’d canceled our connect group and missed that opportunity to love on him.
The nights when only one person shows up are the nights that reveal your character.
Yep they do. Will you still give your best if you have one person turn up? Or will your pride get in the way? Just because something gives the appearance of failure doesn’t mean God sees it that way. Look after what you’ve been given, be faithful with it, and steward it well.
There are too many people in this world that give up at the first sign of hardship. But the thing is, you’ll never grow if you keep giving up. I know because I used to be one of those people, too! Those that follow you need to know that you are steadfast and dependable, even when things get tough. I encourage you- push through and continue to give your best!
The nights when one person shows up reveals where your trust is.
This is a lesson Gideon learned too (Judges 6:15). He trusted in the physical things he saw until God stripped it all back, and in the end the battle was won with a mere fraction of the original man-power. Do you trust that God’s got big things planned that you can’t yet see? Do you trust that the one person that shows up is right where God wants them to be?
If you’ve put effort into preparing for your connect group during the week, or put effort into preparing a message, don’t discard that for only one person. It’s ok to change your plans, but don’t see your efforts as wasted. Maybe, just maybe, what you’ve been preparing for the week is exactly what that person needs to hear.
If you are feeling discouraged due to low numbers, let me encourage you. You don’t need more people to be more successful. Be faithful with those you do have. Always give your best. Build relationship that goes past surface deep. And trust that God knows what he’s doing! When it comes to leading a small group, quality rather than quantity, is a better measure of success!
Are you starting up a Youth Ministry or taking over one? Low numbers and discouraged? Volunteering? We’ve been there! And we want to encourage you on your journey, hence our first eBook! 30 Days To Start A Rockin’ Youth Ministry has got you covered from your pre-launch, to your first night, to those next couple of weeks. We talk all things from budgets to games to parents, and planning to preaching to ‘what if it’s a huge flop?!’ And just for readers of CC.CC. we have a special 10% off your purchase with the code FRIENDSOFCCCC10.