Over the past few weeks I've been pretty discouraged about our attendance numbers at our youth group meetings. I know this is not good or healthy, and part of it has been due to a burden for some of my kids who have fallen by the wayside. I want to see my kids at church, so being disappointed about low attendance is not necessarily a bad thing. However, through several blogs and online devotionals (one is at http://www.timschmoyer.com/), God has been reminding me that I shouldn't get caught up in the numbers game.
For whatever reason, kids who once regularly attended our group meetings have decided not to come any more. It may be due to new school activities, a change in family situation, new interest in another church's programs, a new group of friends at school, or any number of circumstances beyond MY control. Despite my coaxing and keeping in touch with these students through myspace, email, text messages, visits with parents and just about every other means, I have been unable to get these students to return. So, the reminder God has been sending me is to focus on the kids who ARE here. This doesn't mean we should give up on the ones who are no longer regulars in the group, but in the meetings, instead of saying "where is everybody?", we should focus on what a good group we have, even if it's just a handful.
This has really changed my perspective. One of the things I did with my newfound inspiration was that I went and printed a lot of the photos I've taken of our kids and filled collage picture frames with them. Then I had several of our group shots from various events posterized and hung them in the youth building. This has really compounded itself because as I've put more pictures up of the group, I've gotten more excited about them, and they've gotten more excited about our facility and the things we've done. And guess who were also in the pictures...some of our kids we've lost that serve as a reminder to me and the ones who are still here to reach out to them. It's been a simple, but great tool for us! This weekend we will be putting new paint on our old drab youth building, making it a cool place where the kids can hang out. Good things are happening because I changed my focus to the kids who are here!