Faith Communities Today
New Fact Information
Typical Attendance of Children and Teens
Only 2% of Adventist churches in the U.S. have more than 150 children and teenagers in attendance on a typical Sabbath. More than four out of five local churches (82%) have less than 50 young people each Sabbath, including all age groups from birth to 18. Hundreds of local churches have no young people attending on a typical Sabbath.
These facts mean that almost all local churches must conduct children's and youth ministries in a situation where each Sabbath School division and programs such as Adventurer's Club and Pathfinder Club have only a handful of participants. The major challenge facing adult, volunteer leaders in these ministries is "critical mass"--having enough children or teens in a particular age-group to attain the minimum number to even begin group activities. This issue becomes more acute with the older-age groups.
Resources are needed to help lay leaders conduct children's and youth ministries for multiple age groups in one room. Little has been done to meet this need. In fact, there are very few Adventists who know how to successfully conduct these ministries in a congregation with three to five children or youth in attendance at each age level where combining them would conserve limited adult resources.
Almost all of the 2% of local churches with the largest number of children and teens have a full-time youth pastor on staff. More and more of these churches are hiring full-time directors for children's ministries. The essential skills for these individuals must focus on the recruitment, training, and support of adult volunteers.
The other 16% of local churches--those with 50 to 150 children and teens on a typical Sabbath--are the only churches that really "fit" the current resource system provided by the denomination for children's and youth ministries. But, more and more of these congregations are finding it difficult to stay current with the constant task of recruiting adult leaders and feel the need for at least a part-time staff coordinator.
1. What is the total number of children and teens attending our church on a typical Sabbath?
2. What is the typical attendance in each of our Sabbath School divisions and mid-week clubs (i.e. Adventurer's, Pathfinder, AYS, YES)? Do the adult leaders feel that we are attaining "critical mass"?
3. What is the adult staffing for each of these ministries? Who is responsible for recruiting adult volunteers as needed?
4. Based on these data, what recommendations should we make regarding our children's and youth ministries?
New FACT Information, Center for Creative Ministry