The following post was written by Jennifer Siao, Content and Outsourcing Specialist with Student Ministry Publishing. Jennifer serves the youth at Nashville Chinese Baptist Church with her husband.
Growing up in a megachurch to serving in a church that runs less than 100 each week has been a huge transition for me and has given me a new perspective on ministry. I am continuing to learn each week as I serve with my husband in the student ministry at our church in Nashville. My hope is that these tips and things I have learned will help you to be more intentional as you serve in student ministry.
1. Take time to get to know your students personally and show that you care.
While teaching God’s Word should be your primary focus as a student leader, it’s also vital that you spend time with your students and show that you care. Remembering your students’ birthdays is one way you can do this. List their birthdays on a calendar so that you can remember to mail them a card or call them on their birthdays. We will never know everything that students are going through in their lives, but this is a small way to show that we care. Also, try to keep up with their interests and what sports or school activities they’re involved in. Ask them about what they enjoy and take time to attend one of their games, recitals, or even a play or performance they might be involved in. Be intentional and take time to encourage your students in other ways as well. These are just a few suggestions to get you started!
2. Seek out volunteers to serve alongside you in student ministry.
In a small church, most student ministers are volunteer or bi-vocational. This can be a tiring role when you are the primary one teaching each week. My husband and I serve in a small church where the pastor is the only paid staff person at the church. As we serve together, we continue to learn new things! Everyone has a different skillset, and as we are serving in a small church, we’ve found it very beneficial to seek out volunteers who can help in other areas where there is a need. An example of this in our student ministry is music and worship. We sought out volunteers to help in this area, as this is not where we feel God has gifted us. We are thankful for others in the church who have stepped in to help lead in this area. Instead of trying to do everything on your own, reach out and ask for volunteers in the church to help serve in areas where you see a need.
3. Coordinate fellowship and opportunities to serve with other ministries in the church, while keeping transportation in mind.
If your student ministry is small, rather than trying to organize your own service project, try to connect students to opportunities where they can to serve with other existing ministries of the church. In addition, consider that many of your students rely on their parents for transportation. Be mindful of this as you plan and try to coordinate Bible studies or activities at the same time as adult activities at the church. This will help with transportation and parents will be more likely to bring their students at times when they will already be at the church.
4. Pray for your students by name.
This is something that sounds so simple, but it is often overlooked in the busyness of student ministry. Be diligent to pray for your students by name. They face a spiritual battle each day as they step onto the campuses of their schools. Pray for their faith to be strengthened and for them to grow in their walk with the Lord. With so many activities and demands vying for their time, pray that that they would make their relationship with Jesus a priority in their lives and that they would set aside time to read His Word each day.
Regardless of the size of your church or how many students are in attendance, intentionality is an important aspect of student ministry that should not be overlooked. Our desire is that these four tips will help you to lead with purpose as you allow God to use you to point students to Him.