Wow…I managed to go less than 203598724 days between blog posts! Go me! Let’s get to it…
So we’re now on Part 5 of this dialogue on creating a student-led youth ministry. Just to recap, the steps we’ve covered to this point are:
With those things in place, next comes the scariest step…creating opportunities for our students to minister, and actually giving them control of something.
Why is that so scary? Well, let’s be honest…they won’t be very good at it. At least not at first. There will be times where we’re holding our breath, turning red, squirming in our seats, and other such phrases that invoke the mental picture of the general lack of comfort we’ll be experiencing. After all, if you’re anything like me, when you create an opportunity for your students to minister, hoping they are led of the Spirit generally falls in fourth behind “I hope they don’t say/do anything categorically dumb,” “I hope the pastor doesn’t make a surprise visit,” and “I hope kids actually show up the next time we have Youth Service.”
As we’ve discussed to this point though, moments like these are the whole reason we work toward a student-led youth ministry. If we don’t give them a chance to learn when they’re 14, will they even care anymore by the time they’re 21? If Jesus could use a group of disciples who potentially were as young or younger than most of our students (theologians believe most of the disciples were between 12-15 years old), then we should be able to swallow our pride, sacrifice a little bit of perfection (okay, maybe a LOT of perfection), and give these students a chance to be involved and learn what it means to minister.
Now for those of you who are in total panic mode, thinking “I have to turn my Youth Service over to a 13-year-old!” pump the brakes for a minute. That’s not what I mean at all. As a matter of fact, I think throwing your students into the deep end is one of the worst things you can do. Like a supervisor would with entry-level workers with management potential, let them get their feet wet in the shallow end, and as they grow, then move them on to bigger things.
Obviously, the way we involve our students vary based on the talents they have and the culture of your church, but here are some practical ways I’ve used to get my students involved on the “shallow end” so that we can begin the process of grooming them for their ministries:
- Students demonstrating leadership potential are involved in planning committees for our youth revival and given simple tasks (i.e. helping with stage setup, helping clean up after a revival event, etc.). Once they demonstrate success, the next time around I involve that young person with leading one of the committees. Once success is demonstrated there, I may involve that young person in actually assisting with leading services, or put them in charge of an entire aspect of the revival (like music, or promo material).
- Students demonstrating music/singing talent are rotated in the praise/worship teams for Youth Service, eventually moving on to performing those same functions in our Youth Sundays, then youth revivals, and then for general church services.
- Students who feel a call to preach are given 5-10 minutes to speak in small group settings (like Sunday School), then Youth Service, then Youth Sundays, then maybe they are selected as the main speaker for Youth Sunday, before moving on to preach during our Youth Revival or on during a general church service.
- Students talented in design and artwork are involved with creating promotional material, then the youth website, then social media work, then audio/visual work for the church.
- Students talented in decorating are involved in decorating Sunday School classes, then for revivals, then the youth room, then potentially leading a decorating committee, and so on.
- And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas. But in all of this there is a very, very important element that MUST be included if you are to see growth out of your students…and I’ll tell you about that next week.
In the meantime…what are you doing to engage your students in ministry opportunities? Let me know in the comments section below.