The third part of Student Leadership is Discipleship. It can be argued that there are many more facets to Student Leadership than just the three that I have written about and that is true. But most of those issues are ones that I call “teaching moments” in the life of the relationship that I call Student Leadership. So assuming that you have students with the will to lead and they now have a “job” in your ministry, the next phase of development would be considered Discipleship.
I take each student that is involved with our ministry (STUlea) and try to develop a tailored path that depends a whole bunch on them and their decisions. They must be willing to enter into the relationship with open eyes and a willing heart. A lot can happen over the span of four or five years of adolescence and our leadership is committed to be there with them through every phase. Before, I only allowed older, committed students to pursue this phase…then I realized that a 7th grade student was just as willing and capable to commit and serve as older students. This has become a joyful and passionate part of my ministry to students…while also challenging me to deeper levels of my faith, testing my patience as a leader, and increasing the desire to see students become more like Christ.
Some of the things that is common across the board with these students are as follows:
- Commitment to growing in the Word. I provide all I can for them to continue to be challenged in reading scripture. Quiet Time booklets and other reading materials that are age/growth appropriate. A “Personal Survival Guide” that has been written by a friend of mine, Eric Ball is the starting point. The Moving Towards Maturity Set from Reach Out Youth Solutions is top notch and I love it.
- Continual input and pointed conversations with the student to make sure and keep up with their walk. I wish I could put this into words, but I am sure you get the feel of what I am talking about. This includes everything from how their grades are doing in school, how their relationship with their parents is going, to their peer relationships and how that affects their daily walk. I find this to be the most effective way to pick up on areas to work on, both in their lives and mine.
- Specifically designed events for the Student Leaders to build relationships among themselves and with our Adult Leadership. Cookouts, Bonfires, Florida Trips, small group events, and retreats to dig deeper and challenge them further.
I am a believer in the Jesus Focused Youth Ministry strategy and have been involved with it for several years. There are numerous resources and tons of reliable accountability with these guys that help me be a better Youth Pastor/leader and keep from falling into the event-to-event style ministry that so often leads to burn out. If you haven’t checked it out…please do so prayerfully and I think you will find a strategy that helps Youth Pastors become more effective in their calling and passionate about the students we minister to.
I will be adding and refining this as it fleshes itself out on paper in the near future…If you have any questions and/or comments, please feel free and let me know.