Student leaders = leaders of students.
Are you effectively motivating and equipping the student leaders in your Gospel Advancing Ministry to actually be leaders of students?
John Maxwell, the widely-respected leadership guru who started out as a pastor of a small church in Ohio, describes leadership like this: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Whether you have a formally designated group of “student leaders,” or you lean more toward the less structured approach of letting student leaders percolate up out your group without attaching an “official” title to their role, there’s very likely some great untapped potential sitting on the sidelines of your youth ministry.
Either way, you’re the coach. So it’s up to you to give your student leaders the vision, skills and encouragement they need to get off the bench and into the game. And to do that they need to know the way, go the way and show the way.
Here are four steps to help you cultivate student leader for Kingdom impact.
1. Identify Your Own Expectations for Leadership.
If “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” prayerfully formulate your own expectations of what you think this looks like for student leaders in your particular ministry context. Identify what it would look like for your student leaders to…
- …Know the way. Do you have a bold Gospel Advancing vision statement that brings clarity and focus to the direction you see the youth group heading in the next 9-12 months?
- …Go the way. In order to make disciples who make disciples, your student leaders need to be disciples themselves. They can’t lead others where they haven’t gone themselves. What are your expectations for your student leaders when it comes to growing deeper in their own walk with Jesus? Will you disciple them yourself or pair them up with another adult mentor so they can go deeper with God and develop the character traits and skill sets that will grow them into young leaders?
- …Show the way. What does it look like for your student leaders to model a Gospel Advancing lifestyle? Are they personally engaged in relational evangelism, or at least willing to grow in this area? Are they capable of discipling others, or willing to learn how? They only need to be a half-step ahead of the friends they’ll be discipling because you will be there to coach them and pray for them. Are they willing to show the way by sharing their own faith journey publicly and sharing stories with the rest of the group about their faith-sharing efforts? Do you envision them having any sort of “official” leadership role in youth group meetings, i.e., welcoming visitors and folding them into the group, leading small group discussions, leading prayer, presenting the gospel and giving an invitation to trust Christ, etc.?
Try This! ❯
Spend some time prayerfully identifying 2-3 students who have leadership potential. Then approach them, to see if they are interested in taking the next step and if so, get them into a discipling relationship.
2. Identify Your Students with Leadership Potential.
Pull out a roster of the students who typically attend your youth group. Then spend some time prayerfully considering who has leadership potential. Identify 2-3 students that Jesus impresses on your heart who you could see yourself (or another adult leader) investing in.
3. Invite Them to Get in the Game.
Approach those students, individually or as a small group, and ask them if they would be interested in playing a leadership role in your youth group. Share the expectations you identified in step one.
4. Disciple Your Student Leaders.
Develop a disciple multiplication strategy. Whether you do the discipling yourself, or delegate it to another adult leader, your student leaders need to be taught how to follow Jesus by having someone pour into them. This is time outside of your regularly scheduled meetings. The goal is to guide them toward becoming a disciple multiplier themselves with their peers. As they wade into this process, help them identify 1-2 other students they can pour what they are learning into. Ideally, these would be students that they shared the gospel with and led to Christ themselves, but it can also be other Christian students in the youth group who are young in their faith. As they disciple their peers, be there to encourage, answer questions and, most importantly, pray for them. Then as their friends grow in their walk with Jesus, equip them to share their faith and start discipling their friends too, so that process of making disciples who make disciples multiplies out.
Tapping into the potential of your student leaders, not only extends your reach and multiplies your Kingdom impact, it provides these students with disciple-making skills that will last them a lifetime. Prioritizing the cultivation of your student leaders allows you to see the gospel advance way beyond what you could do on your own.
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Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on resource in your inbox!