If you have read though many of my posts, you know I am a big proponent of student-led ministry. This is good in theory, but it requires, if they are new to the concept, hard work to retrain their mindset and the mindset of the church who might have certain expectations for you.
In small youth groups, which are most youth groups in America, 10-15 kids, trying to get your teens to own their youth ministry feels like a herculean task. You want them to carry this new standard but they are too weak hold it let aloe carry it. I began to think about this weakness and what causes it, and what we can do about it. Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. Spiritual Starvation– Youth groups that are built on games and entertainment, when approached with the idea of student leadership and it’s costs, sometimes choke on this idea. I know preachers preach meat over milk, but sometimes you have to go back to the bottle just so they can hold on to the knife and fork. Go back to the basics and the “why’s?” of why you meet and covering the basics of the gospel.
2. No Exercise– Youth groups who are not used to servant projects or mission trips, possibly have an inbred mentality of us four no nore. They haven’t exercised their faith in a long time and left them in a type of spiritual atrophy. Get those muscles working again in your church, your community, or anywhere else in the world and you’ll see their muscle tone return.
3. No Energy– The youth group that suffer from this might need some outreach opportunities to their friends. They have fatigue from too little or maybe from doing to much. Pulling off a big deal like a concert or event, give the group the big picture of what they can do for their youth ministry and community. Likewise, scaling back on a very busy schedule may free your kids up to lead
4. In-Fighting– It could be that your youth group has been fighting so much they are emotionally exhausted from tearing into one another. When countries experience this, from a coo or rebellion, it becomes more difficult to govern and make progress. Maybe there needs to be a peace treaty drawn up and you play the role of ambassador getting parties to sign it for the sake of the group.
5. Spiritual Anorexia and Bulimia– This youth group suffers from a identity problem. As much as you tell them they are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, they just see themselves as nobodies, and so they purge themselves of the nutrients they gobble in your meetings. Lessons on self image, who we are in Christ, and who is the church, may get them to a healthier self image and hold on to the meat of being leaders.
In the end, even though we want to reboot the group and get them growing, we may have to carry our group until they can carry themselves. Be patient, feed them well, exercise them regularly, work for peace, and eventually they will pick up their faith and run with it, then you’ll have to try to keep up with them.