What To Do When No One Turns Up To Your Youth Night

Running a ministry succesfully requires significant time, effort, and resource. And if not many turn up? It can feel like you’ve done something wrong, or like your ministry is a failure. You been there? We’ve been there! For six months in fact. I don’t need to tell you what it’s like. We learned some valuable lessons in that time of seeming failure.

As a leader it’s important to keep your focus on the right things. People remember how you react when life (or your ministry plans) doesn’t go to plan. Or how you react when no one turns up to your youth night! (Or very few people anyway). Today I’m sharing what we learned in our season of ‘failure’, and cheering you on in yours!

It’s ok to be disappointed.

YOU know the effort you’ve put in behind the scenes towards your (awesome!) Youth event.. your teens and their parents may not. So if you’re a little disappointed, that’s ok. BUT. Don’t let your disappointment affect how you run your night, and more importantly, how you treat those that actually do turn up. Acknowledge it, but don’t stay there. Your worth as a leader isn’t dependant on who turns up- your worth is found in Christ.

It's disappointing when no one turns up to Youth, even when you have the most AMAZING night planned! Here's some things you can do. Tansquared Youth Ministry

Run an AMAZING night anyway.

You’ve planned an amazing night, so don’t let it go to waste! Got a message that your kids just have to hear? Trust God that the ONE kid that needs it most is there. Got a sweet new game to play? Adapt it to suit those who turned up! Don’t have a full band? Pick your favourite songs and use youtube instead. Whatever you’ve planned for the many can be just as awesome with a few. Focus on who turned up, not who didn’t.

Run an AMAZING night the next week, too!

Seriously. Quality over quantity all the way. By continually running an great quality night you’ll show your kids that you value them as individuals and not just as crowds. Keep up your amazing work, and give your youthies your best effort every. single. time. You’ll be glad you did!

Don’t focus on numbers.

I’ve said this before, so this is a gentle reminder for you.. We’re here for the ONE. Jesus showed us how important it is to go after the ONE in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Treasure those ones that you have; be faithful with them. Build them up, disciple them, encourage them, lead them, pray for them. Put your  effort into building a community culture that your young people will thrive in! It’s more important and (more fruitful) to have a few that belong than many that don’t.

Don’t compare your ministry to others.

It’s so important not to focus what other youth ministries in your town are doing. They’ll be in their own season, have their own flavour, and attract their own crowd. Awesome! We can’t expect to appeal to everyone, so be thankful for others to carry the load. Watch out for jealousy, resentment, and bitterness, as you do not want these to creep into your ministry. By comparing yourself to others you’ll miss out on the beauty God is creating in you. You’re not a failure for doing something different.

People are watching your reactions all the time. It’s ok to be disappointed when your plans flop, but as a leader it’s not ok to dwell there. Keep your focus right. What do you want to be remembered for? What legacy do you want to leave?

Let’s talk:

  • What’s your experience? Have you ever had an awesome night planned and not many turn up? How did you react?
  • How do you overcome disappointment when your night doesn’t pan out as you had hoped? What would you advise other Youth Leaders is this situation?

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  • I believe this is awesome! It is actually not about you but all about God! So when we focus on Him and let Him take the wheel then our struggles and of course success fall on to Him!

    Remember that you do things out an outflow of love for Him! It is the fuel for all things. Be encouraged to all who are starting home groups or anything of that kind. If one person turns up then go hard sowing into that person. If no one turns up then go and worship! haha

    • Thank you for leaving a comment, Carmen! So glad to hear you were encouraged by this post 🙂 I really hope many others are encouraged by it, too.

  • It’s a little frustrating when you have planned a Youth Service for 3 months, given people ample amount of time to put it on their calendar, and have other churches say they will bring their youth, then don’t even show up.

    I have to tell my youth (all 4 of them) that they are important and if no one else comes, they are going to Worship the Lord and have fun.

    • Oh man, that would be frustrating! But you’ve got it exactly right- your youth are important even if no one else shows up! Keep up your awesome work Karen, bless you x

  • This is a great post and as a youth leader I appreciate it. I created a weekly youth fellowship night at my church and it hearkens back to the time I was in the same youth group and we would get huge meetings. They started out with maybe two or three of us and our youth leader but eventually grew to over 20 at times. Weekly! Over the last few years our church has developed a culture that doesn’t support that kind of youth group commitment, but we do get good attendance at our bigger events. This year I decided to bring it back because I saw a high school group that had chemistry and the potential to build community, which is always my main goal. However, though a few have expressed definite interest, I have only gotten one person at this event, and she’s a consistent attendee. My issue is that it feels like I created an unwinnable battle for myself…they say cultures change and such but I always figured that kids that like each other would want to take a midweek break and hang out! That’s how we were anyway…have kids changed in what they need and want? Our old youth leader once gave me great advice which is “90% of youth ministry is just showing up.” I have taken that to heart in my ministry but it’s just getting harder and harder to rationalize keeping this up if only one person (if any) shows up. I still believe it’s doable but whether it is worth it is questionable. I want to give them the opportunity to have what I had here which was life changing in a great way. The obvious answer is that different kids need different things and that I had a special group so I shouldn’t try and force this on a new generation but I only know what I know…you know? Anyway I’m not sure anyone has a different answer to this problem but I feel like I’m unnecessarily driving myself crazy every Thursday. Do I keep it up? Change tech? Ahh. Anyway, thank you for your post and sorry for the length of this I had a lot to get out.

    • Heya Jackson, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! So sorry I am only just responding now (we just had a baby 3 days before you commented!) but in case you pop back and read this I just wanted to let you know that I will email you properly in the next few days 🙂 We totally get the frustration and want to encourage you! Keep showing up and being a safe place for that one person. Have a blessed week and talk soon!