What To Do When Teenagers Stop Showing Up

No one had shown up to their small group.  I could tell morale for these leaders were at an all time low.  No one likes to feel like a failure.  The truth is that life happens.  And there are many reasons teens will stop showing up.

Whatever you do, do NOT assume there is only one reason to why they won’t show.  When you assume you start creating scapegoats which alleviate responsibility from your shoulders.  When teens stop showing up or have missed for a while you need to:


Someone needs to check in.  This might be an opportunity for pastoral care. It’s a way of letting them know that they are missed.  When you connect with a teen and their family personally it shows that church does matter in their lives.

When you make contact simply ask, “Hey we’ve noticed that you’ve been missing. Just want to see how everything has been going?” Even if they respond with, “We’ve just been busy.” Ask them if there is anything you can do for them.  A brief phone call will go a long way.


It’s easy to go into cruise control.  It’s also dangerous to just set things in motion. While you want to just turn the wheel on how you do ministry it’s important to stop from time to time and ask “How are we doing?”  You might have a system, component or program that is turning teens away.

To know what you are doing look for ways of feedback.  If you set up systems of measuring you will know what works and what does not.  Again, never assume.


Sometimes teens just need a reminder. Make sure you and your team are consistently reminding teens to come the next week. Be persistent with the invite even if you get a “No” or “I can’t make it this time“.  Let people know you really want them there. Do not stop


There will be times when a teen cannot make it because of major life change (i.e. parent’s divorce). While there is little you can do to resolve their situation you can be present.

Instead of asking them to come to you look at how you can go to them.  As things settle down they’ll see that the church was with them. And this will have a lifelong impact.

You cannot control what goes on in the world, but you can control how you respond. When teens stop showing up to your program do not give up, just look at what needs to change. Own the situation, ask God for guidance and do not give up.

Question:  What do you do when teens stop showing up?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • One reason may be that we aren’t willing to go to them. For me, I notice that when I back off from being seen on “their turf” they are less likely to come to “my turf.”

    • Ryan, that’s a great point. I believe the tension in that is where to be visible if you are limited in time. The solution is to build up your volunteer core, make sure the teens know who they are and having them advocate on your behalf.

      Not only are you being available to teens, but you are building the ministry around a team and not one person.