Over the years, I have observed a reduction in the number of student ministers establishing and/or maintaining student leadership teams. I am talking about MS, HS and College age who serve as leadership among their peers for the purpose of effecting and advancing ministry. There is just as much to be said about forming and/or nurturing an adult team of leadership but if you need that spill then your days are numbered already and probably too far gone to be helped. OK, maybe not too far gone but dad-gum-it, how did you get this far without enlisting a team of adults who love, support and carry the water bucket for you? I feel a rant coming on but that’s another series.
For now I want to share, convince, implore, admonish, encourage, beg and whatever else is needed to get you to prayerfully consider the value of a student leadership team of adolescents. The work of securing leadership is hard work and never ending. One reason many youth leaders are letting leadership teams go is that they are running at 90 mph with their hair on fire and cannot stop long enough to punt and retool. Another reason is that student pastors simply do not know how to practically and equitably secure a team without hurt feelings, seeming exclusive or encouraging elitism. But, it can be done, is worth the effort and far better than any other system of implementation.
I have seen many cool and not so cool names for these teams. The name does not matter unless you are sporting a culturally astute gotee, black rim glasses, pencil pants or wear a beanie when its barely cold outside.
See sample names at the end of this – if you last that long.
NOTE** The Youth leadership is a NOMINATION process and not an ELECTION – big difference. Elections are decided by number of votes, a nomination is simply an indication that someone thinks of that person an eligible leader. They must still meet the criteria laid out on the nomination ballet. (sample criteria: confessing Christ follower, faithful to small groups, active member of church and student ministry initiatives, concerned about peers, willing to serve, team player, etc.)
The adult leadership team can nominate as well and/or “confirm” the slate of nominations after the Student Pastor selects from the ballots. The number of votes may be considered by the youth pastor in selection but is not bound by it. He can also add a youth as a member-at-large if he fills a youth should be on it but would not get votes. NEVER REVEAL TO PARENTS OR COMMITTEE THE ACTUAL ballot return vote numbers. Only submit the slate as a total team. the shred the results – parents can get crazy – just ask the cheerleading coach :)
The team (whatever you end up naming it) is patterned after the following ideas
1. We are in the discipleship and training business. Leadership youth should be learning what it means to be an elder and/or a deacon (servants)
2. Leadership students will sit on the sidelines unless they have an outgoing extrovert personality. They need a platform of responsibility at church.
3. Leadership students need a platform from which to leverage the vision being cast by the YM.
4. The youth leaders need a platform from which to promote events, ministry action and his vision.
5. Students need to know WHO it is that the YM is pointing to as good examples to trust and follow their own age.
6. Student leaders need responsibility just like a team needs a captain to offer direction.
7. Students need peers who can carry their opinions, likes, dislikes to the adult leadership.
8. A leadership team gives the YM a means for trial and error without shouldering the burden alone.
9. A YM (no matter how young and vibrant) will eventually need a sounding board from whick to float ideas, changes, concepts and ministry events.
10. A YM needs a safe sounding board that is invested in the ministry and proven it through service.
11. A YM needs a smaller group (um, lets say about 12) to invest in on a deeper level.
12. Students need peers they can look towards as designated leaders when times are tough or in crisis or personal hurt.
13. A youth ministry team of students provides a safe layer of protection from outside negative attacks in the same way an Adult Leadership Team does for the youth minister during delicate situations or controversial changes.
14. Having a leadership team of youth shifts the emphasis from planning and executing event details to coordinating leadership.
15. Having a leadership team of youth is an investment in future leaders
16. Having a leadership team reduces the risk of burn-out
17. Promotes a greater amount of honest and age-specific evaluation.
a. Moses delegated due to the sheer demand on his time. (See Exodus 18)
b. The Judges did the same; they delegated tasks inside and outside the temple.
c. The disciples enlisted assistance – Ephesians 4:11-12 to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, not so the saints can help the Minister do his job but so the saints will be equipped to do the true work of the church.
What happens when one person ties to do it all?
1. The maximum that can be done by a single person is limited, it will max out, it will come to a conclusion. You will hit a wall.
2. The disciples and lay-people turned the world upside down after being equipped to do the ministry and set apart.
Lion and Tigers illustration! If a Tiger can beat a lion in battle for food or territory, why is the Lion called the King of the Jungle! Because one-on-one a Tiger will win, but three on three Lions win every time and thus have earned the title King of the Jungle because they work together for success so intelligently. Lions instinctively know how to work together. They instinctively work to defeat their enemies. Lions live in Prides, which is a family group of two or more males and two or more females with several young, and they instinctively join together when they face an enemy. They live, hunt together and protect their families together. What a picture God has given us to model against the enemy and collaborative efforts between families.
IN the case of Student Ministry often, we find a lonely LION working hard but unable to accomplish all that is needed or expected because there is a disconnect from the pride. He is not meant to work, hunt, protect and provide alone but rather he is designed to work in, through and alongside a PRIDE. I think the “pride” is one-part student leadership team and one-part adult leadership team.
A not so cool list of leadership team names
SLT – servant leadership team
SMC – student ministry council
SMAC – student ministry action council
SMAT – student ministry action team
SC – Shepherd’s club
SLT – Servant Leadership Team
SLAT – Servant Leadership Action Team
YC – youth council
YLC – youth leadership council