Students can lead. Everything. It probably won’t be as polished, perfect, or theologically sound as what you bring to the table, but your students can do it!
They’re fully capable of planning, executing, and evaluating Disciple Now. They can lead a Bible study, small group, or accountability team. They can be responsible for Vacation Bible School, church hospitality, or offering collection.
Trust me. If your appendix ruptured and you spent weeks in recovery, your student ministry could continue as though you were never missed….hypothetically speaking, of course.
Students can do more than run your media presentation or play in the student band. I’ve had students do all of the above – yes, including running an entire student ministry for six weeks in my untimely absence. And before you assume it was a small church with just a few kids – we had over 100 students in Sunday morning small groups, a full-blown weekly evangelism rally, Wednesday night discipleship studies and several accountability groups that were meeting weekly. Students did everything in my absence. Everything.
How do you make that happen, Darren??
- Give them space to do it. Provide coaching and direction, but don’t spoon feed them. Give them some room to make it their own. (Probably the same way someone coached you through your first ministry experiences.)
- Let them fail. Before my students succeeded, they had plenty of opportunities to not get the powerpoints done or forget to enter attendance records, or do a 40 minutes study in six minutes. I walked alongside them in failure, pulled the rip-cord only when I absolutely had to, and kept coaching them toward success.
- Let them succeed. By that, I mean success takes time. Don’t give them one slight responsibility and never let them do anything else. Give them time to lead so they can see success when it comes. And when it comes, let it take root by allowing them to continue developing in leadership roles.
- Don’t pull rank. It could have been really easy to say ‘Well, I’m in the hospital and this is a big church and there’s a lot going on and we need to have an adult in charge blabbity blah blah blah.” We didn’t call the grown-ups to come in and save the day. I knew our students could do it. So we had some adults who stood in as pinch-hitters if needed….and the kids did everything. (By the way, that’s as much a testimony to my pastor’s leadership as mine.)
Kids lead when we let them. It takes some coaching, leading, and cleaning up. But it’s worth it.
What are you doing to allow your students to lean into leadership?