How to Get the Ratio Right

It’s 5 to 1 not 1 to 5.

But how do we achieve this? I was so surprised in grad class this week, with youth ministry leaders whey they came up with a list of people who can connect with students. Let me show you what they came up with!

First the Research

We really need a 5 to 1 ratio. Many children’s and youth ministries wish they had one teacher for every five kids. But researchers Kara Powell and Chap Clark have found that to see students remain in church into adulthood, there should be five adults for each student.

This is a research-based reversed ratio. Ideally, there should be five people praying for one student by name and showing up at their sporting events throughout the year. It’s a paradigm shift. It’s not about finding five small group leaders per student, it’s about finding five adults who show an interest in a teen.

The key is to motivate and equip parents to create that team around their child. Then the youth pastor can focus on the kids who don’t have parents at home who are able to do this. They need to look for teachable moments along with modelling a healthy relationship with Christ.

The Team

Here are some people that can be part of this team


  1. A committed youth leader: You were expecting this one. This person would connect with the student with the parents permission every week. They connect at youth meetings and various ways, much like big brother big sisters.


  1. An uncle or an aunt. Some people have God parents. How can you encourage them to be more involved in a teen’s life. Some may be at a distance


  1. A coach. Coaches can plan a role in a students life, believing in them and bringing the best out of them.


  1. Small group members. If you are part of a small group of other parents natural connections can be made between them and a teen. We have always been blessed with “aunties and uncles” within our church who have shown and interest in our kids.


  1. Sunday School Teachers. Lilly was such a blessing to our family. She taught our girls and continued to stay in touch after they left her class. She gave them gifts on their birthdays and always went out of her way to connect with them at church


  1. Grandparents can play a significant role in a teen’s life. They may be at a distance but their visits can be very meaningful if they stay in contact throughout the year.

Any More?

These are just a few key people who can be much more intentional about supporting youth. Are there any key people besides parents who can make an impact on a teen? Please let us know.

Share this:

Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email


  1. I thought it was really interesting that it’s better to have 5 teachers for every one student. After thinking about it for a little bit, I see how in a religious sense, it makes sense. Also taking into account for the world we live in, youth and young adults need all the help they can get; spiritually and from support. Thanks for a new approach idea!

  2. Really welcome. It’s really not original to me since Kara Powell, Mark DeVries and others have been talking about this for years. Not everyone needs to teach teens but just being involved in their life and modelling Christ makes a huge difference! -Really appreciate your writing in and hope you are able to help get students connected!!

  3. I think it is great that you have been able to find so much success. One thing that I found helped my experience was having a good ratio of committed leaders to youth. I think smaller groups allow for a more personal experience.

    • Kenneth,
      I couldn’t agree more. The challenge with the larger group is making sure we keep the ratio right. Too often people assume that each student is being cared for by someone else, when in reality they are being cared for by no one.
      Thanks for commenting!

Comments are closed.