5 Steps to Create Maximum Student Impact - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

5 Steps to Create Maximum Student Impact

Follow this plan to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your youth ministry.



I’ve had the privilege to meet and befriend hundreds of youth leaders through the years—when I was a full-time youth pastor; as part of various ministry cohorts, networks, and conferences; and now as a Dare 2 Share staff member. One thing I’ve noticed is that every youth leader passionately wants to make a difference in the lives of the teens they lead.

But how do we do that? How do we truly maximize the opportunity we’ve been given to impact the lives of students in our ministries?

Although it may seem overly simplistic, I’ve found that the most important thing you can do to maximize your efforts is to take Stephen Covey’s advice and “begin with the end in mind. Here are five steps for you to work through in your own setting, beginning with the end:

1. Identify what a fully discipled teen looks like.

What are the behaviors and spiritual milestones of your students that would be good biblical measurements as they grow as disciples? Here are some behaviors you could consider using as quantitative goals for your students individually:

  • Memorizing Scripture
  • Having a daily quiet time
  • Praying regularly
  • Sharing the Gospel

Keep in mind that your students will rarely go further than you do. Your behaviors that they witness and hear about when it comes to memorizing Scripture, daily quiet time, praying, and sharing the Gospel will propel or limit their growth. If you’re behind in these areas, work on yourself first before you expect them to grow.

What spiritual milestones should you track as a student is discipled? Here are a few ideas:

  • Salvation
  • Taking a missions trip
  • Discipling other students
  • Baptism

One of my friends in youth ministry said to me a few years ago, “You aren’t really making disciples unless you’re making disciples who are making disciples.” Because that’s what a disciple does—makes more disciples. Jesus told His disciples:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 28:19

His words show us that He wants His disciples to make disciples. Whoa. I was convicted. I thought I was making disciples, but as I thought of my students, they weren’t even attempting to make disciples, and I wasn’t encouraging them to do so. I needed to make some changes.

2. Identify what a thriving youth ministry looks like in your setting.

What biblical outcomes do you want to see for your whole youth ministry? What would the following numbers look like? Which one do you want to focus on first?

  • Percentage of students who are coming to Christ through your youth ministry (either through you or your students)
  • Collective number of times a student serves
  • Percentage of students who are reading the Bible daily
  • Number of baptisms
  • Percentage of students using the Cause Circle to pray for, care for, and share the Gospel with others
  • Collective number of Gospel conversations
  • Percentage of students discipling others

3. Identify what you need to do to create the ministry you want.

Consider spending an entire day praying and evaluating these questions in light of the things you’ve identified above:

  • What activities will help you reach the biblical outcomes for your ministry?
  • What needs to change to create the desired spiritual behaviors and milestones in your students?
  • Are there things on your current calendar that you need to drop?
  • Are there traditions that aren’t really adding value toward these goals?
  • What weekly things are you doing that need to be reevaluated to help increase your chances of moving toward your desired biblical outcomes?
  • What do you need to add to your schedule to make sure you’re focusing more on creating fully discipled teens who are growing in your ministry?
  • Who do you need to discuss these questions with to get their perspectives? The senior pastor? A longtime trusted volunteer? Your spouse? A mentor?

4. Make detailed plans for the things you’ve identified.

Once you’ve taken all the steps above, begin to think through how this could look in detail, and adjust your calendar and processes as needed. Depending on the number of changes you feel led to make, think through whether there needs to be a leader, parent, or student leader meeting to explain what you’re changing and why.

Also, think through additional ways you can continue to update and remind parents and students about changes and the reasons behind them. Recognize that change can be challenging for people, so there may be some resistance at first. But stay the course to the outcome God has called you to pursue!

5. Implement the activities that will move you toward your ministry goals.

After you’ve explained to the right people the adjustments you’re making, slowly start to make the necessary changes. This could begin with holding an event or restructuring how you use the weekly youth group time. The next step could be a systemwide change that involves how you train your leaders to grow students as disciples. Regularly look back to your goals and objectives to make sure you’re staying on track.

If you follow these five steps, you should start to see positive results—and when you do, be sure to celebrate well with your students, leaders, and staff! Also, remember to repeat these steps periodically to keep your ministry thriving.

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