We have been hearing a lot about cliques and other problems with student leaders. In the past, we talked about how our goal is never to try to eliminate the perception of cliques. Merely attacking the perception of cliques can be an impossible goal because, unfortunately, there will always be the few that will still voice their unhappiness. And chasing after an impossible goal can be incredibly discouraging.

What the goal should be is for your students to be doing everything they can to be loving other students and to be as inclusive as possible. This goal wasn’t new to our student leadership team, but we noticed that the student leaders were no longer doing their best to love other students. So we decided to talk about what it means to be a student leader. Instead of talking about the actions we can take, we talked about the characteristics of a student leader. That student leader is one that can’t help but to love and serve people. After compiling a list of the characteristics, we had a time where we could intentionally pray for those things to be true of them.

We are stoked about this exercise because it will, hopefully, not just combat cliques, but several other problems we have been seeing in our student leaders (setting an example on social media being a BIG one probably a subject that deserves its own blog post!).

 

Here is the list our student leaders put together:

SL Characteristics

What are you doing to motivate your students into being more inclusive in your ministry?

 

Colton [Email||Twitter]

How do you reach the students who come in, don’t say a word, sit by themselves and leave as quickly and as silently as they entered?

Every ministry has students like these – here are a few ways to “go after them” and invite them to be a part of the ministry:

No on sits alone.
When you talk to your student leaders, make sure they know that “no one sits alone.” Determine that when someone visits for the first time (or the 21st time) they’re going to feel welcome. Prepare them with some basic questions to get the conversation going, and cast the vision time and time again: No one sits alone!

Consider adding a short greeting time.
We’ve recently added in a short greeting time (we stole the idea from big church), and have seen it work wonders. Put your core students on notice that everyone gets greeted, smiled at, and touched in some way. Adding a greeting time is a short and somewhat artificial taste of community, but it’s a chance to break down the walls of the wallflowers.

Add discussion questions to your program.
If you’re looking to build community in your youth service, what about inviting students to discuss the message right there in their row or at their table? If you’ve got a great volunteer in the room, make sure he/she ison the lookout to get everyone involved in the discussion, too.

Invite someone out for a Coke each week.
Ask God to direct you to the right student he wants you to give special attention to this week. When he points you to the right student, invite them out for a Coke and use the time to pour into them one-on-one. Most students who feel like losers or are lonely will find little help at a large group program, but would come alive across the table at Taco Bell.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.