What is the purpose of Student Leadership?

November 2, 2015     Ben Read    

student leadership training

I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m a Youth Pastor today solely because of my experience on a Student Leadership Team, but I also that experience shaped me and prepared me for the in’s and out’s of the day to day ministry better than almost all of my classes for Youth Ministry.

I was super fortunate to be part of a large Youth Ministry in California for my High School years where I got to lead worship and be on an incredible student leadership team, one that I’ve been trying to emulate for the last 10 years. I remember we had weekly meetings where our Youth Pastor would read us a 2 sentence quote from a Philip Yancey book, and we’d re-write it in our notebooks we kept in the Youth Building, and then he’d ask us a few questions about it. That little training isn’t what prepared me for ministry, or inspired me for what ministry could be.

So when I look at Student Leadership resources available today, they are often of little use to me. Don’t get me wrong, they are great content and well designed, but I feel like the purpose of student leadership for the ones producing this stuff is far different than the purpose I envision for the students in the ministry that God has entrusted me with.

That’s led to several great conversations I’ve had with students, leaders, and Youth Pastors over the last few weeks and months, on what is the Purpose of Student Leadership, what are it’s goals for students who serve on the team. Here are some of my favorite answers from those conversations:

  • Student Leaders set the example for the rest of the group, raise the bar to meet
  • A Student Leader is someone that all the students know they can go and talk to if they have questions about anything, or are looking to connect
  • Student Leaders are reaching out to those in the crowd not as into it or connected
  • Student Leadership is about learning ministry skills or roles of ministry
  • Student Leaders are genuine with all the students they interact with
  • Student Leaders are interested in everyone that comes to youth group and pursue them
  • Student Leaders are clique-breakers
  • Student Leaders get new people who come to be struck in awe with the wonder of God
  • Student Leadership should be a greater benefit for students than for the Youth Pastor
  • Student Leaders get stuff done
  • Student leaders grow on their own

We’re in the process of refining our Student Leadership Team. We want all these things above to be true. We want students to go through the experience of Student Leadership Team and walk away with more than a completed task list that helped the Youth Pastor save time, but be inspired to connect with a church in college and beyond to¬†use their ministry skills for the Kingdom of God.

When you think of goals for your Student Leaders, what comes to mind?


Categories: Leadership, Student Issues

2 thoughts on “What is the purpose of Student Leadership?”

  1. Tim

    Students learn how to lead their peers and others that cross their paths. Student leadership is giving students the ability to step into their God given purpose at an early stage in their life. We too want our student leaders to fulfill all that is on your list and more, but ultimately we want them to learn to lead others so that they can fulfill their call to make disciples of Christ. Leaders make disciples.

  2. Mike

    I like to view my youth ministry as an integrated expression of our larger church with a shared ministry philosophy and vision. So, one of my bigger goals for my student leaders is to understand how and why we minister in the way we do through the lens of our church’s ministry philosophy and vision. I guess the bigger picture is that my students will not always be students and my ministry is one of transition. So, the question that keeps me focused is “how am I preparing my students to be faithful church members now?” One thing I’m going to try with my student leaders this year is to bring them to our church’s annual business meeting to see how our church works and votes on our budget etc.. I’m hoping this will help them understand how our youth ministry is funded and supported by the larger church. There is also a potential case of church discipline coming down the “pipeline” and I thought it might be good for my student leaders to see how this works and why it’s important.

    I guess the bottom line for me is that student leadership is about developing students and NOT getting things done and making my ministry life easier. If I’m honest, student leadership makes my ministry life harder…but it’s worth it!

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