Wrestling with the idea of student leadership in your ministry? Having trouble landing on a model/strategy that feels right? Here are three possible scenarios:
Organic student leadership doesn’t rely on a program; there are no monthly gatherings, no “requirements” etc. Instead, an Organic approach is one that simply looks for leaders to emerge and then gives those leaders more ownership, responsibility and input in the ministry. In essence, it believes that the “cream always rises to the top” and looks for those students who, mostly on their own, are setting themselves apart from the pack. In an Organic scenario, leadership is freely and generously distributed to anybody who expresses and interest…because most don’t. There is no formal program, but there is tons of student leadership happening. At Saddleback, we use this strategy within our junior high ministry.
Pros: Student leadership is available to everybody, no program required.
Cons: It lacks formality and structure and is tough to measure
An “Organized, but…” approach to student leadership is simply that; it’s organized to some degree, but not to an extreme. In this approach there may be meetings, applications, requirements for membership, a set curriculum, etc. But which of those things exist, and which don’t would be somewhat arbitrary and may change from time to time. At Saddleback, we use this strategy within our High School ministry.
Pros: Structure, strategy, measurable results, ability to identify who’s part of program, lots of
Cons: The flexibility may create too much inconsistency, a feeling of “is this what I signed up for?”
An “Organized, and….” approach is simply that; it’s organized, and then some! It’s highly organized, with a well-defined strategy and systematic approach. In addition to meetings, applications, requirements for membership, a set curriculum etc. this model will often include other things such as students being nominated, voted in by their peers, given a large amount of decision making power etc. This model may also toss in some T-shirts and name badges, too. In essence, this model looks very similar to a student government model found in most school settings.
Pros: Student leadership is for the serious! It weeds out the only mildly interested. Those who are in
are usually All-in!
Cons: Can create an elitist mentality among members; a “cool kids” club. Is very high maintenance.
There are lots of ways to identify leadership gifts and develop leadership skills in your youth group. virtually any approach is acceptable. Doing nothing, however, probably isn’t.