Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Student-Led Youth Ministry: How to Morph Into That Framework

Student-Led Youth Ministry: How to Morph Into That Framework

When we began this transformation to student-led youth ministry a year ago, only a handful of teenagers were genuinely eager to dive in. Like the loaves and fishes that Jesus blessed, then multiplied, we took what we had and offered them to God’s service. Within a couple of months, we had more student leaders than we knew to do with. Why? Many of our chair-sitters felt empowered and encouraged when they saw their peers leading. When our kids saw only adults leading Bible studies, they got the (unintentional) message that real teaching was out of their league. But when they saw a peer teaching in our small groups, possibilities opened up to them.

Our student leaders have become fantastic recruiters as well. When they see kids who are engaged, active participants, they’re quick to encourage them to give ministry a shot. When one teen takes on a new role—from giving announcements to teaching Bible studies—many others are quick to volunteer. Teenagers are fueling other teenagers in ways that adults simply can’t do.

Ministry Fruit

And in the last couple of months, I’ve seen something new surfacing in our student-led youth ministry. Kids have accepted such a deeper level of ownership that they’re now taking the initiative to meet a need when they see it. For example…

• One adult “observer” of a small-group meeting heard her girls talk about how they wanted more people to get involved. She listened as the girls brainstormed ideas. At the close, they had an impressive game plan—from making videos to setting up involvement tables before our regular gathering.

• At a recent worship service, I watched a few teenagers initiate a time of prayer for some kids who really needed it.

• And a student worship leader committed to recruiting and scheduling new band members.

These kids are learning that they can lead. And our adult leaders have been able to take a step back, offer guidance when necessary, and then set teenagers loose to make their ideas a reality.

As a youth pastor, I’ve always encouraged teenagers to believe in themselves. I often quote 1 Timothy 4:12“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” It’s one thing to quote Scripture to kids. It’s quite another to actually entrust them with greater responsibilities. That’s what truly enables them to reach their true potential.

This article by Brandon Kennard originally appeared here.