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Archives For December 13, 2011

Many people realize that their ministry has the capacity to have a student leadership and create the vision and structure for it. The problem is that many ministries only have a short-term vision or do not give it the time or respect that it deserves. We take a look at things we could do wrong as youth workers and what we need to keep at the forefront when setting up and interacting with the student leadership group.

Do Not Make Them A Priority

We are busy in youth ministry. Senior pastors want to see big numbers. This means tons of advertising about the event and great sermons that keep driving students back. If we achieve that, we will need to have the volunteers to interact with them, because we know that true faith comes from relationships and fifty students means many volunteers that need to be trained. If we want to reach out to students who are hurting or fringe students, this means we need to think outside of the church building and go paintballing, amusement parks, camp, and retreats. That is a sixty hour work week without budgets, meetings, and our own personal devotions and marriage. If we say we are going to do a student leadership, we need to do it well and give them a priority. Is it better to have that 5th quarter in the fall or to spend two hours with student leaders training them for the year? Can you hand off the fall festival to a volunteer or other church staff so that you can interact with students that provide more than some cheap entertainment that can impact your students to witness to hundreds of students while they are in high school?

Exclude Them From Your Prayer List

I was raised that all prayers, adults and teens, are petitions to God on our behalf. Yet, how many times do we ask only adults to pray for your ministry. If we truly want to saturate our life and ministry in prayer, we cannot leave out a vital people group that we are ministering to. Let them pray for their classmates, they may know more specific problems and situations to pray for than you would and then can begin to include their friends, family, and others into this circle of prayer warriors. Task them in text messages, Facebook comments, and emails to pray for everyday situations. They may become some of the best prayer warriors your ministry ever have.

Fix Their Mistakes

We need to challenge our students to take ownership of their faith, be in your youth ministry or elsewhere. Regardless of the challenge, their will be decisions that need to be made. If we make the decisions for them, they have learned nothing. But if we let them choose, they may mess up. That’s okay. As Doug Franklin said in a student leadership post, “Student leadership is risky because it is never the easiest, cheapest or fastest way to get this done.”

How does the saying go? “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” We are investing in them for a lifetime, not just while they are “relevant in our ministry.” Our mindset needs to be Kingdom-minded and building up the Church for God’s glory. So our investment to let them mess up, be along side them when they figure it out, and let them succeed means lots of time, but long lasting and personal deep results.

Do Not Recognize Their Efforts

We do not ask volunteers to do what they do because of the rewards that we hand out, but we still have volunteer appreciation days, Christmas presents, and acknowledgements at the end of the school year in youth group. We need to do as much for these students too. These praises should focus less on material gifts and more on public praise but recognize that many teenagers do not want to stand out as that odd kid or Jesus freak, so approach it well. Our praises should not make a student want to quit. Even the little comments are great in front of their parents, coaches, and closest friends. Look for these great opportunities to build them up.

What other mistakes have youth ministry made that we as the Church can learn from?

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