Thoughts on Student Leadership

21 Jan

Recently, one of my seminary assignments had me asking two essential questions.Why is it important to raise up student leaders? and How can our ministries better raise up leaders? Here’s some of what I’ve come up with so far for the first one.

  • Leadership opportunities help provide a sense of youth ministry ownership
  • Opportunities provide connection to build up church body, and larger sense of belonging
  • Leadership provides opportunities for students to make personal discoveries
  • Personal discoveries are more likely to lead to personal change as opposed to simply “being told” something
  • Leadership provides positive outlets for creativity and develops community
  • Prepares students for their roles as adults
  • Student leaders leads to reaching a greater number of students – then will have long term impact (on future communities),
  • Potentially more effective than adult leaders to reach other students
  • Value for other seeing peer role models, role of peer mentoring
  • Student leaders provide valuable feedback about students’ perspective

I’ve answered the first here. But here are some other questions I’ve been thinking about

  • How do we build into our ministries opportunities both formal and informal for leadership development?
  • How do we handle the transience of youth communities and assist our students to make smooth transitions?
  • How do we equip not just the “natural” student leader but make sure there’s space for others with leadership potential as well?

As usual, more questions than answers. What are your thoughts? What has worked foryou? What’s been a challenge?

1 Comment

Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Leading Youth


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One response to “Thoughts on Student Leadership

  1. Tanya

    January 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Yes, yes and YES to ALL of the “why”s you outlined! I am hugely passionate about training kids as leaders and giving them opportunities to serve, for the same reasons. It really connects them with the body so they don’t become isolated, know that they have something to offer, and build relationships with others they might not get to know otherwise.

    As to how…

    One thing I think is important is to recognise that training youth as leaders is VERY DIFFERENT to putting adults in leadership roles (even when we’re talking about low-level service roles). Teens may be doing it for the first time, and usually need more encouragement and support – to be shown how to do something, given advice and ideas, and then told they are doing a good job.

    Also, if we really believe if providing opportunities for kids to grow in this way, we have to be willing to pay the price. Sometimes new teen leaders won’t do as good a job as you could do yourself. But the point isn’t for everything to run as smoothly as possible – that’s not on the “why” list! The reason you provide them opportunities is for THEM to grow. Sometimes we have to be willing to put up with some problems in order to let them grow as leaders. Maybe I could lead worship better than the kid I’m training, but a few weeks or months of him learning the ropes (while the music or transitions or whatever suffers a little) will result in GREAT rewards longterm.

    I’m not advocating putting kids in roles they’re not equipped for/skilled in, but rather, that we accept as necessary a small amount of turbulence – low level problems that will get ironed out as they grow into it, if they’re given the time and space to do so.


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