Your youth ministry is struggling to grow. Your students are not inviting their friends. You finally make the decision to challenge them and ask them, “Why not?” Then they give you an answer that seems reasonable. “All my friends are Christians,” or, “All my friends go to church already.”

You have good students. It seems plausible that they would be hanging out with other Christians at school. But I am here to tell you that if your students are telling you this they are lying.

Studies, and our own personal research, show that only 4% of this generation are following Christ. This means that there is mathematically no way that all of your students’ friends are church-going Christians.

But beyond math, I have uncovered this lie personally. I also work at a school that many of my students attend. I remember the first day that I started that job how heartbroken I was to not only realize my students were lying to me but also how much the lost students in my community were hurting and struggling.

Why do I share this?

First, I do not want you to be discouraged. This lie brought me down so often because I thought that there were no students left to reach in my community, that I was stuck, and all the other ministries must be so much better than mine. But uncovering this lie made me realize there were plenty of students to reach and opportunities for ministry growth and impact in my community.

Second, I do not want you to take for granted any knowledge in your students. You see I realized along the way that my students were lying because I think they firmly believed it to be the truth that all their friends were Christians. This meant that I needed to do a better job of explaining the Gospel, what it means to be lost, and our responsibility to reach the world around us.

Finally, I want to challenge you to get out and meet the lost students in your community. Whether you go to an event, or volunteer or work at the school, you need to get out and spend time with the students you are called to reach. Because in these moments I believe your heart will also be broken for the hurts students in your community have but also the sheer amount of work that needs to be done I believe will cause the fire you had when you fart started in youth ministry to reignite in new and more creative ways.

There is so much opportunity for your youth ministry to grow and make a huge impact on your community. If you will only retrain yourself and your students to see the world around you differently, feel the hurts of your community, and work in new and creative ways.