Starting a student leadership team can be scary, hard, intimidating, and confusing. You may have no clue where to even start, but hopefully you know that having a student leadership team is necessary. If not, check out this post “Why Student Leadership” to dig into the need for a student leadership team. But for now here are the 5 very simple steps for starting a student leadership team from scratch.
1. Identify Leaders
Pick out the students who show leadership qualities. This can be a bit difficult, because as you know, not all leaders are the upfront crazy ones, and sometimes those ones are not leaders. But try to identify who might be a good candidate for your leadership team. Ask God for discernment as you try and identify these leaders. Be open to who He is guiding you to because they may not be who you would choose. Look for students who are willing to serve, and try hard to identify leadership potential. Again, it is not easy because chances are they are not leaders yet, they are followers with potential to lead.
2. Assemble Them
Once you have identified some of the leaders, or potential leaders in your group now it is time to bring them together. At this point I highly suggest putting them through an application process. In my ministry we open it up to everyone, but give specific invites to those students that we have identified.
We make them fill out an application (you can download this for free right here), make them get letters of recommendation, and put them through an interview. We do this for a few reasons. First, we want to make sure the students on leadership are actually serious about being there. Most of the time the application process itself helps weed out the students who wouldn’t be able to handle leadership because they won’t even finish the application. Second, it allows us to get the information we need on the students to see where they are in their walk and leadership development. Third, it gives them some life skills. When they go in for their first job application/interview it will hopefully be a little less stressful because they have already experienced something similar.
If students are willing to go through the application and interview process, and if there are no major red flags, then we let them on student leadership. We want to see students succeed, but also want to see them willing to put in the work.
3. Create Teams
The way we run our student leadership team is by putting students in charge of different areas of ministry. We want our students to work inside the gifting God has given them so we try to provide different opportunities for them to do this. We accomplish this by creating teams:
tech team, greeter team, snack bar team, on stage team, planning team, worship team, prayer team, admin team, etc. We create these teams and then have our student leaders lead each team. We don’t just want our students to work them, but to lead them. For instance the snack bar team is not there to work the snack bar (although I do require that they work at least one week a month so they are not just the ‘boss’) but to recruit, schedule, and train other students from the youth ministry to work the snack bar.
Each student on the student leadership team picks a ministry team to lead or co-lead. They then, with our adult leader guidance (if needed), lead that area in our ministry by recruiting their peers to serve under their leadership.
Developing teams is a really easy way to give students opportunities to lead, and also take the responsibility off of yourself.
4. Let Them Lead
Step back so they will learn to lead. Don’t abandon them, but give them space to allow them to lead. They need to be given opportunities to put into practice their newly learned leadership skills. Chances are when you give them that space and allow them opportunities they will come up with some amazing ideas that you may not have thought of without them.
5. Continue to teach, reinforce, and guide
Yes, you may have established a leadership team but just because you gave them a title does not mean that they will know what to do. Continue to teach them and help them. We do monthly leadership lunches after church where I teach a leadership lesson, we plan the next few weeks, and then we break into our teams and discuss how we can improve and where we are headed.
If you are unsure how to teach leadership, don’t panic, there are plenty of tools, videos, and curriculum you can use to sharpen your student’s leadership skills. Just make sure you are giving them the HOW to lead, remember that they are new to leading and they will need some help. Be there for them, let them fly, but also let them know that they can always come back to the nest to get guidance.
Student leadership teams are awesome and we hope that you are able to create a thriving team. If you have questions or need help, email Stokedonyouthminsitry@gmail.com
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com