Students in the church have a unique opportunity right now. They have access to their peer groups that youth leaders don’t have (and shouldn’t have). Many are creative and out-of-the-box thinkers (because many “don’t know better”). And, best of all, many of these students have shown their ministry opportunity isn’t in the future, it’s now.
First of all, we’re referring to youth who are taking leadership in a particular ministry, not necessarily within your youth program. Some of these are established student leaders in specific channels. Some are flourishing through opportunities like Youth Alpha Online. Others have an entrepreneurial spirit and are looking to impact their world with the gifts God’s given them in perhaps more unconventional ways.
As a leader, how can you help them flourish in leadership?
Here are some suggestions and considerations:
- Encourage them to pray. See what God is saying to them and help them discern/decipher God’s direction.
- Let them try. That doesn’t imply recklessness or irresponsibility. With a prayerful stance, encourage them to try what God’s challenging them to try; to step up and see what God does with them. Let them do the work it takes (without doing it for them).
- Let them fail. Failure, at some point, will happen. It’s not about avoiding failure, it’s about learning why something didn’t happen the way they intended it to happen. In some cases, the failure may result from their mistakes. In others, unforeseen circumstances may be prominent factors. The key is to help them evaluate what went wrong—and what when right, to prayerfully discern, and to learn.
- Celebrate the wins. No matter how small or how big, celebrate whatever wins and successes might come from their initiatives.
- Connect with them regularly, especially to encourage them.
- With any of the above items, the students may not know how to do those things. In any case, help them learn. Teach them. Show them an article, webinar or book that’s helped you in your development. It will be an ongoing journey, so encourage them to keep learning on the way.
- Let them dream. For some, the next step may be a small one. Others, may see a grand vision. If it’s God’s will, be their advocate. Use your influence to help make room for what God’s entrusted to them at this table we call ministry.
God’s church will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months. The ways we have typically viewed ministry will be reshaped. What better time than to encourage our youth to seek God’s heart and how he wants to continue to bring his message of love, justice, grace and mercy through Jesus to their neighbourhoods and beyond! Let’s help make space for it now.