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

What Protestant Churches Can Learn About Equipping Student Leaders From A Catholic Monk

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Photo Credit By Jason Bernstein/For The Star-Ledger
on August 26, 2013 8:06 PM, updated August 26, 2013 8:25 PM

I was in the kitchen working on my podcast when I head he t.v talk about students  and leadership. Like a magnet, it drew my ears and my eyes to the t.v. where 60 minutes was talking about a boys prep school in Newark , N.J., St. Benedicts

Growing up Catholic and watching old James Cagney movies,  I have a soft spot for gutsy Catholic priests doing good work and, more importantly, gospel work.

Watch the video  and then join me for the take-aways following.

I heard and saw so many good things that traditional youth ministries can learn about equipping student leadership and ownership. Here are a few principles I took away and may inspire you to make some changes in your own ministry.


They all each other brother, showing them inter-contentedness and their need for one another to make it through life.

They have a morning meeting where they tell guys it’s o.k., in a brotherly way,  to say I love you to each other.

The Affirmation- You can be any good thing you want to be, go and conquer.

Benedicts hates a quitter.


Motto: Whatever hurts my brother hurts me

If someone is missing we send a team to go find him

Education saves lives

Working through emotional noise

They are value to other people

Connectedness, not quitting on kids.

Seeing dead people come to life

The most satisfying part of Headmaster Leahy is not where a kid goes to school b can they introduce him to their kids.


The high school seniors are given the respect and the authority to lead.

There are group leaders who watch out for other students.

They give control to a group that never gets to have control (teens, minority)

Freshman cannot wear the hoodie, the school colors, modeled after a monks hood, unless you complte the freshman hike.


Students are given not just an opportunity to lead but a mandate to lead and care for the other guys in their school.

Students push each other and set the events and the schedules.

“Failure is a better learning experience for students. ”  Father Leahy

Boot camp for freshman, the students make sure that incoming freshman know what is expected.

Early morning “revival” meetings, convocation

One reporter said it best when he said that St. Benedicts was a laboratory where the students learn to fight through. This echoes what my former camp director told me, “Camp is a laboratory of Christian living”. In other words, both Benedicts and my camp were safe places to fail, learn, and succeed.

Could that same be said of our youth ministries?

Your Turn

What would need to happen in you to trust kids to lead?

Which of the take-aways resonates with you most?

Which of the take-aways above could you start to implement in your youth ministry?












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