This week we’re focusing on student leaders. If you are creating a student leadership program in your group, here’s a quick punch list with some basic ideas of what to avoid and what to include instead:kurt

DON’T only ask the shiny students to join.
Too often the leadership of a youth group is made up of the “chosen ones”—the shiny kids who show up at everything or squeak the loudest. Instead, consider that one kid who is so close, yet so far away. What about the student who is totally on the outside, looking in? Instead of just obvious leaders, think outside the expected and see what happens.

DON’T let your meetings pull them out another night of the week.
Often times, being part of the student leadership program requires an extra night out every week. The result is that many students miss out on it because they can’t give up another night. Instead, consider meeting on an occasional basis unattached to core programs (like youth group) so your students can be focused. We prefer once a month for a few hours, which gives us plenty of time with them but without an ongoing weekly commitment.

DON’T be afraid to give them big stuff.
Student leaders need to be challenged. The quickest way to disillusion these key teenagers is to be unprepared for your time together or waste their time with piddly projects. Instead, give them the teaching calendar. Let them plan services. Challenge them to come up with next quarter’s youth group calendar. Let them run wild.

DON’T be the only voice challenging them.
Many youth workers see the student leadership program as their chance to really “pour into” their students. While this may be true, you are robbing them if you insist you’re the only/best leadership voice they are hearing.

Instead, bring in an outside speaker every so often—the manager of the local Chick-Fil-A would be great (you might get some free food out of it, too) or even go on a field trip with your core students to a local business or spread them out to visit a few churches and report back about their experience.

What other student leadership DON’Ts would you share?

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.

18 Youth Ministry Don’ts

Josh Griffin —  September 22, 2011 — 16 Comments

I got an email from someone asking for a quick list of basics as he started out in youth ministry. This isn’t the most perfect list in the world, but it was what I rattled off as a reply. What would you add to the list?

  1. Don’t do ministry alone
  2. Don’t hog the platform
  3. Don’t alienate the team
  4. Don’t treat everyone the same
  5. Don’t make tons of changes … yet
  6. Don’t reinvent the wheel
  7. Don’t let a month go by without reading a book
  8. Don’t sacrifice your Sabbath
  9. Don’t always say yes
  10. Don’t walk fast everywhere you go
  11. Don’t lock yourself in the office all of the time
  12. Don’t always be out of the office
  13. Don’t wish for greener churches — they don’t exist
  14. Don’t give up on your senior pastor
  15. Don’t leave the van messy
  16. Don’t expect a raise
  17. Don’t raise everyone else’s kids and not your own
  18. Don’t stop believing