Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Taking Student Leadership Mainstream

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I love developing young leaders. Since I started I youth ministry (100 yeas ago it seems) I was taught to develop a leadership team. The book you see above was my first student leadership book. It recommended I start a S.A.L.T team, this stands for Student Action Leadership Team. From this point on I was always recruiting new leaders, we would have planning meetings, etc. It was very exclusive. Now let’s jump ahead 20 years.

I used to believed in the elite team. The special forces of youth ministry. I sought the best and the brightest, until I got a “revelation” that that is not what Jesus did. Yes, he chose 12 disciples, but that was not his “leadership” team. If they were supposed to be his leadership team, they were certainly not the best and the brightest. I would have chosen the rich young ruler or the prodigal son’s bother because he was always home and faithful.

Jesus took leadership mainstream. He called young men who could not make it in traditional rabbi school where you had to apply to be a student (yes, I used to use student leadership applications doh!). I have an Endeavor style ministry, mixed with my own thoughts and ideas, that believes all kids can take their place in God’s story.

I am still experimenting with some mid-week program models but I have divided our youth ministry meeting time into a 45 and 45 paradigm. Summer is different, but the idea goes like this,  kids think up and develop projects with an an adult facilitator for the first 45 minutes of our program. They meet, eat, chill, plan etc. Some nights they are planning a weekend retreat and some nights they are thinking on ways to add value to the program that night. Everyone can choose something. The second 45 minutes is service. We have praise and worship, offering, and message, etc.

I still have “go to” kids but my pool of developing young leaders has grown. I get to watch kids in action. It’s like watching a football combine and seeing kids run through the drills in real time. In this process kids are learning, doing, and failing vs sitting. This model isn’t perfect, no models are, but this mainstream approach to leadership feels more like Jesus to me.

For more info on developing student leaders and some of my recommended resources you can check out my article on Equipping Student Leaders

How are you taking student leadership mainstream in your group?

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