Cultivate Student Leaders: 4 Steps You Need to Take
Student leaders = leaders of students.
Are you effectively motivating and equipping your student leaders to actually be leaders of students?
John Maxwell, the widely-respected leadership guru who started out as a pastor of a small church in Ohio, describes leadership like this: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Whether you have a formally designated group of “student leaders,” or you lean more toward the less structured approach of letting student leaders percolate up in your group without attaching an “official” title to their role, there’s very likely some great untapped potential sitting on the sidelines of your youth ministry.
Either way, you’re the coach. So it’s up to you to give your student leaders the vision, skills and encouragement they need to get off the bench and into the game. And to do that they need to know the way, go the way and show the way.
Here are four steps to help you identify and cultivate Gospel Advancing student leaders.
Step 1: Identify Your Own Expectations for Leadership.
If “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” prayerfully formulate your own expectations of what you think it looks like in your ministry context for your student leaders to…
- Know the way. Your student leaders need to understand your bold vision to advance the gospel.
- Go the way. In order to make disciples who make disciples, your student leaders need to be disciples themselves. They can’t lead others where they haven’t gone themselves.
- Show the way. Getting your student leaders motivated and equipped to personally model a Gospel Advancing lifestyle is a huge step in the right the direction.
As you consider, ask yourself these questions…
- What are your expectations for your student leaders when it comes to growing deeper in their own walk with Jesus?
- Will you disciple them yourself or pair them up with another adult mentor so they can go deeper with God and develop the character traits and skill sets that will grow them into young leaders?
- Are your student leaders personally engaged in relational evangelism and capable of discipling others, or at least willing to grow in these areas?
- How could you better utilize your student leaders during your youth group meetings, i.e., welcoming visitors and folding them into the group, leading small group discussions, leading prayer, presenting the gospel and giving an invitation to trust Christ, etc.?
Step 2: Identify Your Students With Leadership Potential.
Pull out a roster of the students who typically attend your youth group. Then spend some time prayerfully considering who has leadership potential. Identify two to three students that Jesus impresses on your heart who you could see yourself (or another adult leader) investing in.
Step 3: Invite Them to Get in the Game.
Approach those students, individually or as a small group, and ask them if they would be interested in playing a leadership role in your youth group. Share the expectations you identified in step one.
Step 4: Disciple Your Student Leaders.
Whether you do the discipling yourself, or delegate it to another adult leader, your student leaders need to be taught how to follow Jesus by having someone pour into them. This is time outside of your regularly scheduled meetings. The goal is to guide them toward becoming a disciple multiplier themselves with their peers. As they wade into this process, help them identify one to two other students they can pour what they are learning into. Ideally, these would be students that they shared the gospel with and led to Christ themselves, but it can also be other Christian students in the youth group who are young in their faith. As they disciple their peers, be there to encourage, answer questions and, most importantly, pray for them. Then as their friends grow in their walk with Jesus, equip them to share their faith and start discipling their friends too, so that the process of making disciples who make disciples multiplies out.
Tapping into the potential of your student leaders not only extends your reach and multiplies your Kingdom impact, it provides these leadership-caliber students with disciple-making skills that will last them a lifetime.
This article originally appeared here.