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youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, student leadership

Case Study on Student Leadership

By Doug Franklin June 8, 2012

Let’s look at two common but hypothetical situations to how youth ministries implement student leadership teams. First, take a look at George. George was told by the leadership team at his church that he should look into developing a leadership program for the youth group. This was a new step for him and his youth ministry. He thought through the concept and decided that a leadership council was the way to go. He found 5 students in his ministry that were willing to help him plan and run events. He had his first meeting with these students and together they planned the calendar for the year. George’s leadership program was off and running.



Only two months into the program, George noticed that his leadership program was not producing the desired results. As a team, the student leaders had decided to be at each youth group meeting fifteen minutes early to help set up and to greet visitors. However, these students had been failing to help with the set up and some were even arriving late to the meetings. The students also seemed less willing to come to the leadership team meetings and to help plan future events. Because he didn’t want the ministry to look bad, George picked up the slack from his student leaders. The final straw came at the lock-in New Year’s Eve. The student leaders had put the event on the schedule, but had failed to help promote or plan it. George spent many hours getting ready for this lock-in and was very disappointed when fewer than half of the regular attendees came. Only two of his student leaders attended. George knew he either needed to suspend the student leadership program or rethink his methods.

Next, let’s meet Larry. Larry had been pondering the need to create a leadership program in his youth ministry for some time. He decided that he only wanted the students who would be dedicated to leading the youth ministry. He created an application several pages long and even required referrals for the applicants. Next he determined his expectations for the student leaders. The program would require attendance at a weekly meeting, involvement in daily Bible study, they would need to read several leadership books and follow through on all assigned tasks. He asked them to sign a covenant stating that they would follow through with these requirements or resign from the leadership team. Larry noticed that by announcing these requirements, only the most qualified students followed through with the application process.



Throughout the year, Larry was thrilled to see his student leaders growing in their new roles. They were excited about the program, and were able to sell that excitement to the rest of the group.  Problems did arise, but Larry was able to remind the students of their commitment. Only one of his students decided not to continue as a student leader. Larry soon realized that the benefits of a solid leadership program far outweighed the costs.

A student leadership program might be the next step for your youth ministry, but as these stories illustrate it is not an easy change to make. Careful consideration should go into creating the right program for your group. Be sure to avoid the pitfalls of a perceived leadership program by having the courage to truly allow your students to lead. Give them opportunities to lead and you will see your youth ministry grow stronger and student leaders created who can change the world for Christ.

If you would like to know how we do this at LeaderTreks, or if you have a question or need an additional resource, call Dan Colwin at 877-502-0699 and he will help you get started.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More