In a small little town, a church took a risk to start a youth ministry from scratch. They had no youth budget, no youth pastor, and only had 5 middle school boys.
I am so glad that they took the risk to start a youth ministry (which eventually became one of the largest youth ministries in the region and had the resources to hire a P/T youth pastor) because I would not be in ministry today unless they did. That is why EVERY church needs a youth ministry because...
Youth ministry is a part of the revitalization equation for local churches,
Youth ministry is strategic to engage the community and young families,
Good youth ministry is family-based, not program or generational based, and
the evidence of youth ministry builds the next generation of leaders in your local church; not just for the future but for today.
So HOW do you start a youth ministry from scratch with no budget (I’m glad you asked)?
Develop a focus group of parents, key leaders, and/or potential youth to get involved. This can be a youth ministry “focus group/ministry” to help start youth ministry SO THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
Get the focus group to develop a leadership team to run the youth ministry. Do you have parents, young marrieds, or a shared community of churches who can start a youth ministry?
Pick a weekly night to meet (weekday vs. Friday) and start with a monthly template of: 1) fun event, 2) small group activities/program (go to resources on nextgenbc.ca for FREE stuff and Youth Alpha), 3) try to do a service/month (with the local churches or within your group), and
4) service project. These events can be done in a house / church / coffee house / farmhouse / anywhere.
Finances follow vision and results. Even if you don’t have a budget for youth ministry, do you have grandparents willing to give above their tithes? Do you have people in your church willing to host an event (use their resources for a night aka farm, vehicles, food - food does go a LONG way in youth ministry - , etc.)? Get your focus group to make a list of potential people who can invest in youth ministry via hosting, cooking, or giving.
Have a year-long plan. Start in September and go until June. Include important weekends that would include SPARK, ELEVATE, and HISTORYMAKER. When you plan a weekly template for 10 months, it becomes easier to plan events, programs, and discipleship endeavors.
Track the right stuff! So many times, we focus on the ABC’s rather than the DEF’s in ministry. ABCs include attendance, budget, and cash... but I would encourage you to track on the DEFs: discipleship, evangelism, and fellowship. No better way to do this through youth ministry in a local church.
Get mentored. Mentoring is ONE, if not the most, important ingredient to leadership development in the 21st Century. Due to this, I have developed a 12-month mentorship track and coaching for young leaders. Check out those details at www.nextgenbc.ca called #ANewMe. You will NOT be disappointed.
So, let me encourage you with some FINAL thoughts.
First, step out in faith and watch God work (courage, strategy, strength). Do your part and God will do His.
Second, fuel the growth engines of your church. Youth ministry is a part of the revitalization story of the local church as 80% of people come to Christ before the age of 18, 66% of people respond to the call of vocational ministry in their late teen/early young adult years, and 71% of people retain their faith for LIFE when they are discipled well in their youth and young adult years. Investing in the next generation will be a growth engine for your church.
Third, you are not alone! Besides the all mighty God with you, we are here with you too (resourcing, coaching and mentoring, and praying). Feel free to reach out anytime.
Last, pray! I am praying alongside you as you determine Gods very best to start a youth ministry in your context (with no budget)!
You got this! With you.