Students are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today and can have a major impact now!
I hope you were fist pumping as your read that and we can all agree on that statement. We know our students are special and this is why we do what we do. We spend countless hours pouring into students lives and hopefully you are working toward empowering your students as leaders to change the world. But a part of that empowerment isn’t just looking to when they are out of youth group, or what they can do at their schools (although that is big) but also how they can be empowered within the ministry. Too often we simply talk about ministry, or spend time making them the recipient of ministry instead of empowering them to do ministry.
My goal in every youth ministry I have worked in is to have the ministry be fully student led. I want every person seen serving or leading to be a student. From the door greeter, to the tech team, to the worship band, to the person emceeing, my desire is to have them all be students leading their peers. Our students have what it takes to lead, but sometimes they simply need us to empower them and allow them to. Here are a few tips on how to make that happen…
1. Develop a student leadership team
Do students have to be on a student leadership team to become leaders? No, of course not. But a student leadership team does give students a very practical way to step out as a leader and develop their leadership skills. Hopefully, you see the need for a student leadership team but if not check out this post “Why Student Leadership?” It is a great way to empower students within your ministry. I know starting a student leadership team can be scary, hard, intimidating, and confusing but don’t let that stop you from doing it. You can check out some tips on how to get one started here, “5 Steps To Starting A Student Leadership Team”.
2. Provide opportunities
Oftentimes we overlook students when it comes to serving and leading opportunities because we have adult leaders and students are the ones we minister to. We forget that part of us ministering to students is allowing them to lead and do ministry as well.
A great way to provide these opportunities is to create teams: tech team, greeter team, snack bar team, on stage team, planning team, worship team, prayer team, admin team, etc. By creating teams and having students lead each team they are empowered and given opportunities to develop on the job. We don’t just want our students to work in these areas, but to lead them. For instance the snack bar team leader is not there to work the snack bar (although it is good for them to 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.
We empower students to lead by giving them opportunities to do so. Simply telling students they can be leaders and verbally empowering them will not work without providing real opportunities.
3. Train, teach, release
A sports coach is the best example I have for empowering students. Coaches train on what something means, teach how to actually do it, and then they turn their team loose to do it. Coaches are not on the field playing, they are there to empower, teach, and train their players so they can then release them to play the game. When the players are on the field the coach isn’t, but is watching to help, motivate, and correct if need be.
Empowering students within your ministries means to be their coach, to train them, teach them, and then release them to do.
Students need us as their leaders to empower them to lead, not only outside of the church but also inside their own youth groups. Simply asking students to volunteer oftentimes does not work, but empowering them to lead is a different story. If you have specific questions, would like to chat more, or need ministry coaching please email us at StokedOnYouthMinistry@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