I'm always surprised when I talk to a youth leader who has no student leadership team. Think of Jesus, just hanging with the crowds, and not investing in the disciples.
But, what's worse than not having any student leaders, is having the wrong ones!
The right student leaders are essential for effective Gospel Advancing, disciple multiplying ministry in any youth group. With the best brand of student leaders you have Spartan soldiers helping you win the battle for the next generation. Without them you are alone in the war zone.
Here are 3 reasons you need to take the time to build a highly effective student leadership team:
1. The right student leaders raise the bar.
In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul reminds his younger protege Timothy, "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." The right brand of student leaders "set an example for the believers" on every level. So don't just choose teenagers who are willing to show up. Choose leaders who are willing to rise up to be all God calls them to be.
Who you choose someone as a student leader you communicate a clear message to the rest of your teenagers, "This is how I define a student who is on fire for Christ and leading the way. This is what a spiritual leader looks like." So choose student leaders (and adult leaders for that matter) you want your other teenagers to become like.
2. The right student leaders create the atmosphere.
In the July 26th, 2011 edition of Science Magazine, The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute revealed the results of a massive research project. They discovered that if you can get 10% of any population 100% committed to a vision or a set of values they will inevitably influence the other 90%. They called the 10% "true believers."
How does this apply to your youth ministry? If you can find the right "10%ers" to go 100% in when it comes to loving God and others, they will become the thermostat for the rest of the youth group.
On-fire teenagers heat up the atmosphere in the youth room. Like John Wesley used to say, "When I preach I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn." When this brand of student leader walks into the youth room they come in ablaze for God. Other teenagers in your youth ministry, not only watch them burn, they often catch on fire too!
3. The right student leaders make disciples.
Some youth leaders are under the misconception that teenagers can't make disciples. They think that these teenagers are too young, too untrained or too hurt. But these youth leaders fail to remember that most of the original disciples were teenagers when Jesus commanded them to "go and make disciples" in Matthew 28:19.
When Peter, Jesus and the rest of the disciples went into Capernaum, only Peter and Jesus paid the Temple Tax (Matthew 17:24-27) This tax, originally mentioned in Exodus 30:14, was only for those 20 years old and older. Although al the disciples were there only Peter and Jesus paid. If I'm reading these passages correctly then Jesus was a youth leader...with one adult sponsor (Peter) and one really rotten teen (Judas.) But with that youth group he changed the world!
Jesus unleashed this unlikely crew of mostly-teenaged disciples to make disciples! He inspired them, equipped them and deployed them for the ultimate cause. They were young. Some would consider them untrained. And most of them bore some kind of hurt in their souls. But these young Jesus followers, filled with the Holy Spirit, changed the world by making disciples who made disciples.
I praise God for the student leadership team I was blessed to be a part of growing up. We were expected to have daily times with God, go to the weekly leadership meetings and make disciples in our spheres of influence. If we didn't have someone with us in the youth group meeting, (usually someone we had already shared Christ with and brought out to youth group) we were instructed to sit with newcomers.
We would make these visitors feel at home, introduce them around and do the follow up afterward. During this follow up, if they hadn't yet put their faith in Jesus we'd go over the Gospel again. If they had already put their faith in Jesus we would initiate the discipling process.
How did we, mere teenagers know how to share the Gospel and make disciples? We were trained by our youth leaders! They would use the weekly student leadership meetings and other training events to prepare us to advance the Gospel and make disciples.
The result? We had 100 teenagers on our student leadership team and 800 in our weekly youth group meetings! Most of the teenagers in our youth ministry had come to Christ because of the influence of another teenager in their lives, often one of us on the student leadership team.
By the way, if you want to equip your student leaders to raise the bar, create the atmosphere and make disciples then you need to bring them out to Lead THE Cause this Summer!
Lead THE Cause is week long immersion experience that builds student leaders with unbelievable passion for Christ. If you've never brought teenagers you need to do it this summer. If it's been awhile since you and your teenagers attended, you need to come back. With God's help Lead THE Cause is massively improving in depth and impact every year!
Jump on board right away to get the Super Early Bird rate (while supplies last). Prices go up on January 20th so act now and start building your student leaders (and the ones who should be) into disciple makers for the glory of God!
Refuse to just recruit teenagers to hand out flyers and pass out punch! Choose leaders who will, not only set up the folding chairs, but fill them with the teenagers they are seeking to reach for Jesus!