When I was still a student in high school, I was asked by my youth pastor to join the student leadership team by being a small group leader for middle school boys. I was a part of an amazing two-year span in leading the eighth-grade boys. Those were two amazing years of leading teens to Christ. Now, as a family pastor, I get the amazing opportunity to invite teens to serve alongside the different ministries of the church. In all honesty, without our teens serving, we would be highly understaffed with volunteers, but we don’t just throw them to the wolves either. We highly invest into our students and help them to grow as the leaders they are called by Christ to be. In what I learned as a student leader, myself, and now in ministry, here are some ways we lead our student ministry team and how you can, too.
Treat them like adult leaders.
Our students are invested in many of our ministries. They are a part of the worship team, the kids’ ministry, the nursery, and many other ministries in our church. We do this because we believe raising leaders is what God is calling us to do in our teens and kids. With this, we treat our teens as adult leaders. If there is a training going on, we expect them to be there. We want them to give their opinion on different issues. To be a unified family ministry, we want every who is a part of it at some level to be a part of the trainings and fun events we do together, so everyone can grow together. With what we do directly impacting our teens, we believe they can help keep us involved in what is happening with their culture and also to learn what is helping them grow spiritually. If we lead out of what we think will lead them, then we miss the opportunity to see how they truly grow in Christ.
Listen to how students want to lead.
Students will tell you where and how they want to lead. We need to be there to listen. For example, our students wanted to lead worship during our service for teens. At this time, we didn’t have a youth band. Knowing it would take more time from myself in setting up and getting everything ready for them, I had a choice of either saying no, or putting in more work to make it happen. So, I decided to put in the extra work it would take because I knew the payoffs for the students and the health of the ministry would be more than fruitful. And since that decision, we have seen some amazing things happen to the health of our ministry. When we listen to how our students want to lead, we help them to lead in their passions and gifts for God.
Let students take ownership.
When we let students lead, we need to let them lead. We need to hand over some of our keys of leadership to them. In kids’ ministry, we let our teens be table leaders or small group leaders. They lead around six kids during the service they are a part of. We let them take ownership and leadership of their specific group. We could provide an adult for that table to lead, but we want our teens to have ownership. It requires a ton of trust and much development for them, but it is worth. Our kids look up to our teens. The teens are their heroes. We do our best of taking advantage of that so that our kids have a person who is highly influential in their lives. We also have adults to be a part of the group, so that if things get out of hand, or issues arise, the main leaders can take over. For the most part, we let our teens take ownership so that they can feel empowered and grow closer to Jesus through serving Him.
Invest in your student leadership team.
Like anything you want to grow, you have to invest in it. Investing in your student leadership team is critical in helping our students grow in their own leadership. This means we need to provide trainings on a continual basis pertaining to issues like how to deal with a kid who won’t listen, how do we act as leaders, how can we grow in our speaking skills, how do we help other teens to see the gospel message, etc. There are many topics that we can train our students in to help them grow. We also need to be mentors for our students. This way they can come to us with current struggles in their specific ministry so we can help point them in the right direction to grow past that struggle. When we invest in our students, we only continue to help them skyrocket in their leadership.
Student leadership is a big part of my heart. I love seeing a 16-year-old serving as a greeter alongside a 68-year-old. It’s amazing to see some of our teens serving on the worship team in the main services. It’s eye-opening to others when they see teenagers doing the same work as adults. Sometimes teens are stereotyped they can’t serve because they aren’t old enough. But, I think that we help our teens to continue to stay in their relationship with Christ and continue to grow spiritually when we give them leadership. That’s what happened to me and so many others who have had that opportunity. I hope these tips allow you to develop a student leadership team that thrives and shows the light of Christ.
If you would like blogs and updates from Ben, please fill out the form below!