Guidelines for Safe Fun and Meaningful Youth Ministry #4
Student Leadership is common aspect of lots of youth ministry programs. Different churches give students different opportunities to be leaders – whether it’s being a leader of younger kids at Vacation Bible School or in Sunday School or having a leadership role in worship. The important things is that students feel included and encouraged.
How is your congregation doing with offering students opportunities to be leaders?
Let’s look at 3 different ways students can be in leadership:
First, let older kids help with younger kids. They can be a helper in an elementary Sunday School class, or in the nursery. For the younger kids, there is no one more exciting than the teenagers at church. Maybe some of your youth would be leaders for Vacation Bible School, either shepherding a group of kids or leading a craft or story telling station.
Second, let young people be leaders among the congregation. Youth Sunday can be a great way to get youth in front of the church. And more than that, maybe there is a young person that could be a liturgist more regularly. Find out if the choir is open to teenagers joining. You might have a teen that would like to be on the missions committee.
Lastly, invite students to be leaders among their peers. Try a curriculum designed to be student lead. (I recommend Synago) Have students lead their own small groups – let the adult in the group be a participant instead of the leader. When you go on a service trip, assign each work team a student leader and put them in charge of delegating work, leading team devotions and making sure everyone stays hydrated.
One thing not to put youth in charge of: Logistics. Student Leadership is not about getting youth to make all the phone calls and arrangements. Students growing in leadership is about relationships and experiences, not to-do lists. As youth get older, bring them in on some of the behind the scenes tasks so they see the larger picture (if they are interested). In the meantime, let their leadership play out in hands on ways.
All of this depends on the youth you work with and the church you work in – figure out what works best in your context. If you want some help brainstorming, give me a call. And remember, inviting students into leadership is a lot of work for you – they will need encouragement, training and your mentoring. It will be worth it.