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. My first student leadership book 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. Now let’s jump ahead 20 years.

I used to believed student leadership was an elite team team, like the Navy Seals, that only a few, the proud can participate. 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 was using an Endeavor style ministry, mixed with my own thoughts and ideas, that believes all kids can take their place in God’s story.

I’ve experimented with mid-week program models and you should to. For example, I’ve divided our youth ministry meeting time into a 45 and 45 paradigm. Summer was different, but the idea went like this, kids think up and develop projects with an an adult facilitator for the first 45 minutes of our program.

Students met, ate, chilled, planned etc. Some nights they were planning a weekend retreat and some nights they were thinking on ways to add value to the program that night. Everyone could choose something to participate in. The second 45 minutes was service. We would have praise and worship, offering, and message, etc.

I still had “go to” kids but my pool of developing young leaders was always expanding. I got to watch kids in action, like watching a football combine and seeing kids run through the drills in real time. In this process kids were learning, doing, and failing and growing vs sitting. This model wasn’t perfect, no models are, but this mainstream approach to leadership felt more like Jesus to me.

Servant Leadership isn’t for the elite, it’s for everyone who’s willing to hear the call, “Follow me” and lean into what God is doing in their lives.

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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