Teenagers Need Smaller Groups

A few weeks ago Dr. [Jeff] Myers visited with David Kinnaman, president of Barna Research.  He asked him to share some of his conclusions in his recent research into how 18-29 year-old non-Christians think.

Mr. Kinnaman emphasized that research is still underway,  so his conclusions are tentative. Then he said, “One helpful thing we’re learning is that the lower the ratio of adults to students the better learning environment. The learning quotient goes dramatically down with the bigger group.”

He went on to say that successful youth ministries do not necessarily translate into successful Christian living: “You can have a lot of great teaching, but that doesn’t line up with the way people say they grow.”

“How do they grow?” Dr. Myers asked.

“Through personal relationship,” he replied, adding, “Small is the new big.”

This conclusion explains a lot:

  • Why kids with involved Christian parents have a better chance of becoming spiritually strong.
  • Why life-on-life mentoring is so important in the home, school and church.
  • Why small group programs with lots of committed adults are more successful in preparing spiritual champions than large meetings.

Small is the new big.  If David Kinnaman is correct, the question is not “How can we get more kids involved in our group?” Rather, it is “How can we get more adults involved in the lives of these kids?” The lower the ratio of adults to kids, the stronger the likelihood of spiritual growth.

[This report comes from the Gift Legacy e-newsletter written by Jim Barth, Director of Planned Giving at my alma mater Bryan College.]

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