How Many Kids Are in Your Ministry?

In the last MTP podcast, I mentioned one of the most common questions asked at conferences. I bet you have heard the question, “how many kids are in your ministry?”

Now there is nothing wrong with the question itself, but I think there are some negative unintended consequences of consistently asking that question. Here are a few of those unintended consequences:

  1. We tend to place higher value and significance to larger ministries assuming they are more effective because they have more kids.
  2. This question tends to polarize people by forcing them into numerical categories that create “labels.” These labels many times do not truly represent the effectiveness, relevance and actual impact of that ministry.
  3. At times, this question robs us of an opportunity to learn from others because it jades our perspective. Yes, it is true, that many lessons can be learned from those in larger ministries. However, if we accept the perspective that smaller numbers mean “less effective or less relevant” then we will miss out on valuable ministry experiences and learnings.

KidsNumbers are important and can be used as a component of measurement, but they do not tell the whole story. With that in mind, I would like to dare the kid min world to try a different approach. Instead of leading a conversation with the question, “so how many kids are in your ministry?” Lead with this question, “tell me a story about your ministry” or “tell me what God is doing in your ministry”? Questions like these temporarily remove the obstacles of numbers and provide a platform of shared learning that Proverbs 27:17 calls “iron sharpening iron.”

It is a simple idea, but it might make a big difference in how and what you learn from others.


  1. Great post. I stopped asking this years ago. Because I have a large website ( people always assumed I was at a very large church, and I always enjoyed the look of surprise in response to my answer to this question when I was asked. 😉 They seemed to relax when they found my church was similar in size theirs. About ten years ago, I started asking, ‘Can tell me a story of something God is doing in the life of a child in your church.’ I have found that everyone has an answer to that regardless of the size of the church, and that is what we are about. When they can’t answer that, the very question has at times caused people to rethink their focus on numbers and refocus on individual lives, and that has been wonderful to see.

  2. I agree that numbers don’t reflect the effectiveness of a ministry. However, I think there is value in knowing a ministry’s size. It helps me craft better questions for that person. If a church is large, there is great value in learning their thoughts on what caused that growth and how they structured and navigated the changes that growth produces. If a church is small, they can have great wisdom on how to accomplish their ministry with limited resources or how they build relationships with kids who may be different ages. All of us are working toward a great purpose, but we all have different ways of doing that purpose. Lifelong learning (through things like this podcast) just helps us to do it better.

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