Get Your Church on Board with Student Leadership
Let’s be honest: the idea of giving students the chance to lead isn’t the norm in most churches. For years many churches have been planning events without including students’ input or providing opportunities for increased ownership, and they’ve watched participation and engagement decline. Student leadership has the potential to reverse that trend, but you’ve got to introduce it carefully and intentionally if you want to get your church on board with student leadership.
“The idea of giving students the chance to lead isn’t the norm in most churches.”
I recently left a ministry that had a thriving student leadership ministry to arrive at one that really doesn’t have much in the way of student ministry (yet!). So let’s talk how to get your church on board with student leadership, especially when you’re just starting out at a new church or in a new position.
#1 Clearly communicate the need
This starts well before you even accept a new ministry position. Be upfront about your convictions and your beliefs during the hiring process. You should finish your interviews knowing how the church thinks about student leadership, and they should also know your thoughts and values. If not, there will be some difficult days ahead filled with missed expectations. Avoid future tension and conflict by being upfront and clear about the need for student leadership and your desire to prioritize it in the ministry. When you’re ready to get started, be sure to determine a clear vision, purpose, and structure for student leadership.
#2 Be content with people not understanding
Chances are that your church is filled with people that have been going to church a long time. There is also a good chance that most people inside the church have nothing more than a surface level relationship with the student ministry. Don’t expect to have everyone on board right away with how you do ministry (especially if it’s different than the way things have always been done).
If the former youth leader did not put a high priority on student leadership then it will be foreign to most regular church-goers. But don’t fall into the trap of just doing what’s always been done, especially if the old ways aren’t not producing results. Instead, gradually introduce and prioritize student leadership, but expect to be met with questions, confused faces, and some difficult conversations. Take a look at these tips for communicating to church leadership, parents, and volunteers. Be sure to count it a win when someone is curious or wanting to know more about how you do things.
#3 Stick to your convictions
Whatever ministry position you are in, remember that God has called you there! The Holy Spirit has given you strong convictions when it comes to student ministry, student leadership, and the future of HIS church. Don’t let pleasing people get in the way of those things. Church leadership will probably have different ideas of what student ministry should look like. Be respectful but make sure you do not compromise your convictions or beliefs. Your job is, and will always be, to please God above all else.
Student leadership is an important part of a growing student ministry. That does not mean that everything will be great and go over smoothly when you start a new position. It will come with challenges, but what new position doesn’t? Communicate clearly, be content with people not understanding, and stick to your convictions. I truly believe student leadership is too important to the future of the church to neglect.
By: C.J. Smith
C.J. has been in student ministry for the past 10 years, and has been at Covenant Baptist Church in Spartanburg, SC since June of 2018. C.J’s passion is to see student’s come to know Christ and use their gifts to glorify God. Over the years he has authored student ministry teaching series for Download Youth Ministry and been a regular contributor for a couple student ministry blogs. C.J really believes that nobody can reach students as well as other students. That fact has always guided him through the years of doing student ministry. C.J. loves sports, regardless of which one it is. He is an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, and Tennessee Volunteers. C.J. and his wife Amber have a 6 year old son named Neylan.
About the Author
The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry… Read More