A fundamental key to successful youth ministry is learning how to intentionally create a culture of leadership development within the fabric and DNA of your programming.  Developing student leaders for ministry is a great way to leverage and expand your influence to this emerging generation. Student leaders can be the greatest evanglists for the vision of the student ministry.  Having an effective and efficient student leadership team doesn’t happen by accident.  You must have an intentional two-part plan to (1) disciple and develop student leaders and (2) have a fluid assimilation plan to connect them to a specific area of leadership in partnership with your adult leaders.

Why it’s important to have student leaders:

  • It’s tangible/visible evidence of the gifts God provides
  • It prepares them for present and future leadership opportunities
  • It cultivates a culture of accountability
  • It provides a sense of ownership
  • It teaches them decision making skills
  • It’s a great model of discipleship

Additionally, here is a three-step process to creating a healthy student leadership team: Discovering, Developing, and Deploying.

1. Discovering Leaders

  • Cast Vision:  What does God’s Word say about leadership?  Here are a few passages you can use to cast vision for what a Godly leader looks like: Exodus 18:21, Matthew 20:26, Romans 12:3-8, Philippians 2:3, and 2 Timothy 2:15.
  • Look Around:  Are you creating a climate, culture, moments, or environments within your weekly programming to see what students are rising to the call of leadership?  Ask the Question: 
    • Who in the room is already leading?
    • Who is bringing lost friends to church?  Who has a compassion for the lost?
    • Who is respected by others? 
    • What are you looking for?  Be sure to promote a willing heart, not a perfect student.
  • Confirm the Calling:  Once students express an interest, partner them with another 

2. Developing Leaders

  • When it comes to developing your students, you need to be consistent and faithful in teaching the scriptures and modeling a spirit of holiness until spiritual maturity in the life of your students becomes a regular habit.
  • One-on-One, Life-on-Life, Apprenticeship:  Your objective is to help students understand that the gospel is not the A, B, C’s of life; it’s the A-Z of life.  Acts 15 teaches us that when we dig into and apply His word, God will transform our hearts.  That transformed heart is what transcends our world and culture.   

3. Deploying Leaders

  • Have multiple entry points for students to connect, engage, and get involved.  It’s vital that you find out what they’re the most passionate about.  Whatever they’re most passionate about, they will stick with and be effective.
  • Meet with parents, guardians, or caregivers to get buy-in and partnership from them.
  • Meet with student leaders regularly.  You must inspect what you expect. 
  • Involve your adult leaders and require them to be intentional about building relationships with student leaders and doing life with them.
  • Have specific expectations, duties, and roles you want them to accomplish.
  • Continue to pour into your students.
  • Have an AMAZING time and enjoy the journey.
  • Make being a leader a BIG DEAL.

The longevity and sustainability of your student leadership team depends on also enlisting the help of adult leaders who are committed to:

  1. Impacting –Your influence is evident by the fruitfulness of your team.
  2. Investing -You are putting quality into what you are doing.
  3. Imparting –You are giving sacrificially of yourself to God, your students, and your ministry.
  4. Inspiring –You cause others to have a desire to follow Jesus.
  5. Integrity -Your private lifestyle is just as authentic as your public ministry.
  6. Intercessor -You must pray on behalf of others

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