Today, I was talking to someone about all of the awesome things the Lord has been doing through the student leaders in our ministry.  As I was telling them about one of the projects a student was working on, they said, “Really? A high school student came up with that?”  What bums me out about that story is that I wasn’t surprised that they said that.  People have such low expectations of what a high school student can do and what’s even worse is that the high school students believe them.

One of the most important things I have learned since I started working with student leaders is that they all (even the confident ones) have a “wall” in their minds about what they think they are capable of.  Often, that wall is holding them back from executing the things that God has put on their hearts.  Our role, as their pastor, is to tear that down.

So how do we do it?

We need to make sure we do 3 things:

Empower: We need to be empowering our students to pursue the things that God has put on their heart.  Ask them how they are gifted.  Ask them what people group (elderly, hospitalized children, military families, etc.) their heart has been breaking for.  Then push them to go and do something about it!  Part of that means actually empowering them.  Maybe that means giving one aspect of your ministry to a student; empowering them and trusting them.

Mentor: Mentor your leaders through the process of turning an idea into a reality.  Teach them what it takes to organize or run an event or ministry.  Walk through their ideas with them.  Not every idea is going to be a winner, and if it isn’t, help them understand why it wouldn’t work out (maybe talking it out with them will even help them come up with a whole new approach to their idea).  If they come up to you with something that is already great, walk them through the steps to improve it and make it happen.

Grow: We can’t be throwing our students into leadership positions without first growing them as leaders.  Some might know how to be leaders at their school or on their sports teams, but they might not know what it means to be a leader at their church (spiritual leader).  Teach them what it means to lead like Christ.  Help them discover their spiritual gift(s) and overall leadership style.  Help them grow into confident spiritual leaders.

So far, we have seen this work in our church.  It has been so great to see students leading and creating new ministry teams and service projects!  Right now, we have a student developing an art/craft ministry, another student working on a ministry where students write encouraging letters to various people groups and organizations, and even a student working on a student pastoral care team!

What about you? What are the student leaders at your church doing in your ministry?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

If you give LeaderTreks a little information about yourself they’ll in turn give you 50 brand new freebies from their website. Just downloaded the bundle myself and saw health assessments, team building initiatives, illustrations, Bible studies, activities and more. Good stuff!

JG



Stop the Bottleneck

 —  February 15, 2012 — 3 Comments

If there’s a bottleneck in your ministry, guess what? It’s probably you!

Think about it for a second — you’re the point person of the ministry, so doesn’t it make sense that decisions roll up through you? In a centralized leadership structure (like most churches) there is one central figure, usually a youth pastor, who is tasked with making the call on a variety of issues. But therein lies the problem: everything comes to a screeching halt when that person has too many plates spinning. When they are on vacation, good luck moving everything forward. If and when they leave, it all comes crashing down.

If you’re the point person, aka the bottleneck, consider this plan in the next season of ministry:

Realize you are an equipper
The pastor is not supposed to control everything — your primary job is to equip others to do the work of the ministry. Make sure you are helping others do great ministry, not just helping out with yours.

Give as much of your ministry away as possible
One of the most painful times in ministry is when you begin to give away the things that you love. But you will be healthier, and you will relieve pressure on the bottleneck. Yesterday we talked about giving away the stuff you don’t like, but holding on to too much stuff you do like, is classic bottleneck behavior.

Trust them with decisions
Don’t take back what you gave. Refuse to look over their shoulder every second of the day. Trust them with the tasks and responsibilities you gave them and have confidence their calls. If you’ve done a good job of preparing (and equipping) they’re ready for this. There will be some pains along the way, but they will be growing pains…and it hurts so good!

Regularly evaluate and guide
What if instead of holding everyone back by being the bottleneck, you helped everyone get better. If you give ministry away, you add a new opportunity to coach your people and help strengthen their skills. Next, you can mentor and guide them to give their ministry away, too — maybe this time to a student!

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.

We just started up a Student Leadership program (I had killed it a while back because it was unhealthy – more on that another time). The application is pretty exhaustive, meant to be a thinning process right out of the gate. They are due this weekend, I’m excited to see the response from the students. Download HSM’s Student Leadership Packet (PDF)!

JG



Our student leadership is just getting off the ground again right now (you can download our application later this week if you want to adapt it for your ministry) and we’re looking at curriculum to take our students through. Up first we’re going to do a book study of Doug Fields’ Help! I’m a Student Leader book, then we’re probably going to adapt LIVE’s Leadership lessons. We already use the LIVE Curriculum in our Life Groups, seems like a great fit. Here’s a bit of the company line if you want to check it out, too:

We’ve partnered with our good friends at LeaderTreks to help your students and adults discover indispensable biblical principles that are relevant both to daily life and to youth ministry. LeaderTreks has built a solid reputation as a national ministry committed to helping congregations pursue the goal of consistent leadership development within youth ministries.

JG

Just finished up recording a “digital presenter” session for the Converge Student Leadership Conference in the Midwest. I wish I could have been a part of it live – but I’m pumped to teach on video. Looks like such a fun event! I would highly recommend either Converge in the Midwest or Student Leadership Conference on either coast! Oh, and while we’re on the subject of student leaders, Doug Franklin has been killing it, lately!

JG



We’re on the front end of revamping our student leadership program in HSM … for the 3rd time in as many years, I think. How’s yours doing? Leave a vote in this week’s poll!

JG

My first time preaching was like hanging out with death. I was absolutely scared. After it was all said and done, I preached for about 55 minutes! My original target was 20 minutes. I was all over the place. Not only did I speak FOREVER (I was 17), but I came around my small church and SAT down on the communion table. At the time, the communion table was in the center of the worship center (what we call the Sanctuary in East Tennessee). I walked in front of it and plopped down with legs swinging. I’ll never forget the gasp coming from the congregation that night and nearly killing that one old lady in the back. Ok, I didn’t almostkill anyone, but I might as well have.

As leaders, it’s our job and joy to find future leaders and invest into them. As a pastor, sometimes I’ll have a guy come up to me and explain how he wants to preach a message. What we do next shows how we truly approach discipleship. For me, that was meeting with the youth pastor once and giving him my rough outline. He left the topic up to me. I had no idea what I wanted to preach on much less how write a sermon. Looking back, I believe that he offered the best advice that he could, but I can’t help but think that as pastors we need to be more intentional.

For those students that do approach us, we should give them the opportunity to preach. We cannot stop there–that lets us off the hook.

As intentional leaders, we must search for new preachers/leaders.

More times than not, I will approach a student and ask them to preach. They typically freak out and say no. I’ll then use that opportunity to tell them that I’ve been observing them and believe that God could use them proclaim his goodness. I promise that I’ll be there every step of the way. I won’t leave them alone and they won’t look stupid.

Here is my process for teaching a student how to preach. It’s not the gospel of preaching, but it’s been very effective at training young men to preach.

1. Set up a meeting
Please meet with your student preacher. Nothing says, “I don’t really care about you” than scheduling someone to preach and then communicating everything over email/text. Schedule a time to meet with them. I promise it’ll help them! It’ll also give you an idea of where they are at in the process.

2. Give them a topic
As a kid, I hated selecting topics. How on earth did I know what I was going to preach on? Even though I’ve had students approach me with a topic they want to preach about, I’ll typically tell them no for their first message. Why do I do that? I want to get their agenda out of the way and teach them that preaching is more than about picking a topic you want to rant on. What I find helpful is to pick a topic in advance. I’ll typically pick something that already fits in with our scheduled teaching calendar. This will stretch them because they’ll have to prepare and throw out everything they were wanting to “tell everyone about.” Do them a favor…give them a topic!

3. Help them research
The worst thing that we can do in training potential pastors is give them a topic and then expect them to do all the work. Sit down with your student and teach them how to research. Go over how you prepare for a message and then show them the websites you visit. I useLogos Bible Software, so I’ll typically print a package of material for them on their topic.

4. Give them the opportunity to sketch a rough outline
Allow them to formulate an outline and then go back over that with them. I never give a student, who’s just starting to preach, the option to form the sermon in a vacuum.

5. Meet with them again
At this meeting, you need to see a copy of their message. I would suggest not teaching them to manuscript. From my experience, students who manuscript a message will READ it instead of preach. Have them show you their final outline and write out any statements that they are going to make that are doctrine related or controversial. It’s important for you to “vet” their message.

6. Practice the message
This is the biggest single key in successfully teaching a student how to preach. The Friday before a message, I’ll reserve our student center for the student, me, and our preaching interns. I set the stage, lights, and sound exactly the way it’ll be Sunday morning/night. I want them to see the environment that they’ll be preaching in. I also wire them up with the microphone. I want the student to be as comfortable as possible when they actually preach. I want their minds to be clear of everything except their message. We practice coming up on stage (even bringing their stand up, holding their Bible, reading Scripture, etc), the introduction, the entire message, and the conclusion. It’s our time to break down the message and to see what works. Like I said before, this is when students learn not to read a manuscript, but preach a message.

I also use this time to find their “thing.” I believe that each person has a specific thing that they do. Most of the time, we’re not aware of it. Practicing the message in a “live” format always reveals the quirk. I’ve had students who drag one leg while walking, jump up and down as their preach, speak in the “preacher voice,” have Ricky Bobby hands, etc. I don’t make fun of them, but I will reenact what they are doing to show them. Sometimes I’ll even record their quirk on my iPhone and then play the message. Doing all of this keeps them from looking like a newb. I promise, they’ll love you for this. Do everything in love.

7. Pray. Pray. Pray with them!
Lay hands on them. Pray with them.

8. Take a picture for memory
Mom and dad will want a memory so take a good “action” shot. I always post it on Facebook so everyone can tell them that they are proud.

9. Schedule a follow-up meeting
It’s easy to forget this last step, but it’s important to their learning process. Go over ways they can communicate better, use hand gestures better, etc. Whatever you do… encourage them!

By the age of 30, Nick has served as a missionary, creative arts director, student pastor, graphic design, and photographer. I’m married to an amazing woman and have one daughter. I’ve never looked back since my first mac and am a closet Star Trek fan. He regularly blogs at http://www.everythingpastor.com