Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Math Lessons

There are 168 hours in a week.

I see most of the kids in my youth group an average of 1.5 hours a week.

That means that out of their entire week, 1% is spent with me. One percent. When I did the math last night I felt conflicting emotions of frustration and relief.

I was frustrated by the thought that my 1% is up against the:

12% spent in front of the television
9% spent on the internet
and I don't even want to try to calculate the time spent texting.

On the other hand, I felt profound relief--that perhaps if they were only exposed to things of a spiritual nature for 1% of their week, than perhaps it was only logical to expect a 1% change per week in their spiritual formation. (I know, I know, it's the Holy Spirit that prompts change and could move at 50% a week if the Holy Spirit wanted to...but I'm interested in boring, stark numbers this week).

It's somewhat mind boggling to think that I can spend 40+ hours a week for a 1.5 hour slot of time. My 28% is all for that 1%.

I've been challenged to question the purpose behind every activity crammed into that 1%. I've been asking the question, "Is this a worthy way to use up my 1%?"

I've also been challenged to remind parents that while my job is to minister to their children, a youth pastor alone is not going to cut it. While the youth pastor has a powerful position to speak into the lives of students, it is a very limited position.

28% for the 1 %.


Tony Myles said...

"Sponge worthy" on the same playing field as youth ministry?

Yep... that's about right.

I read somewhere in the book "Reaching A Generation For Christ" that student ministries marked by outstanding success have volunteers spending at least 11 hours a week with students in some way. The average youth ministry volunteer gives about an hour.

Maybe it is about how much time... and how you spend it.

Amanda said...


Yes, I can see how spending those 11 hours would go towards building an outstanding ministry...

From my own experience, I can certainly see the difference between the student that plugs in for the 1.5 hours a week compared to the student who is also active in the midweek bible study, choir practice, etc.

I'm beginning to understand just how important the weekend retreats and 2 week missions trip are...


nate richardson said...

amanda, thanks for this. from the youth pastor side, how much can we expect them to grow in a matter of 1 1/2 hrs a week. i think that is why it is vital to pack the allotted time with as much nourishment as possible. so many youth groups are based around games. i am a big proponent of the small group. this allows them to talk out what they are learning. otherwise they would hear it and in five minutes forget about it.

Amanda said...

Nate: I completely agree with you on the small group end of things.

We just switched around our youth group schedule. We used to start the night off with a game and end with small groups...we've just switched to having small group time in the middle and ENDING with a game--that way there is room for a devo or small group time to go long if the Holy Spirit is really moving.

Last Sunday small group time went so long that we didn't have time for the game I had planned...none of the students seemed to notice.


nate richardson said...

right now we have the game at the beginning, i like the idea of it at the end, i might have to try that

Josh said...

Reality at it's most raw. :)

Anonymous said...

Actually your dealing with less than 1% more like 0.892857142%. But that would have just been geeky to say that. Doh! The geek has spoken.

Nate said...


Wow! You are right and it's really hard to taken in. I have really been evaluating how affect is a 2 hour program? Building relationships with students are the key and our ministry has to put more focus to that - thanks for reminding me.


Dave Ward said...

I chime in with Tony. My last speaking event was at a church in CO where there were twenty adult leaders actively involved. The youth pastor was busy having a baby. The entire thing ran GREAT without the pastor around. Hmmm....0% :)

I do think discipling leaders is the greatest challenge for youth pastors i speak to. From Episcopalian to UMC, to Wesleyan, Baptist and non-denominational. The really good ones seem to put in huge amounts of time recruiting, training, and overseeing adult leaders.

world champ stephen neal said...

Without the Pastor, the entire house of cards will collapse.

Los Federales said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Drury said...

Wow. What an amazing thought!


should be published.


Anonymous said...

As a public high school math teacher (and an IWU grad.), I'd be interested in discovering how many of your youth group kids could figure out what percentage of each week (or what percentage of each year for that matter) they spend at youth group :-)

Take heart, even 1% of the week can yeild much in the hands of our Savior. Keep up the good work of pointing these youths toward Christ.

Sarah Gomez said...

Hey Mandy :) It's been years!

I agree with your post, 1% doesn't seem very profitable when you put so much into it. I have learned in my ministry here that a whole lot of my ministry is when I am outside of the actual program building relationships with the youth in their world . I find when this happens, that 1% actually IN the youth group is multiplied by leaps and bounds because your genuine desire for their lives to meet Jesus shines through all week :)