I recently had introductory interviews with some students that I have set up to be student leaders in an area of our ministry. The very last question after going through a plethora of theological, practical, and spiritual expectations was, “Why do you want to be a part of this team?” An eleventh grader sat across the table from myself and another leader and answered clearly and concisely like this: “It’s not to achieve something. It’s not to be something specific. I just want to be in what God wants to use me for. I want God to bless others through me.”
I was blown away! This young person gets it. What if every student in your ministry had this desire? Potential is realized and through these students, God would actively influence schools, jobs, families, and entire communities.
How do student ministries help students see their potential to be an influence?
Here are five great ideas to implement to flip the lightbulb on in your students.
Nothing helps students realize they are leaders already in their friend groups and schools like just simply telling them. As a leader in a ministry, you can usually see potential in students long before they can. Develop an area where you can invite your cream-of-the-crop students to serve within your student ministry. Obviously, the student ministry is designed for them and you don’t want them to miss that because they are doing some role or job so maybe try having this area of service take place before youth group. These roles could be a high energy welcome crew, a warm up game before youth group to get students around earlier, a name tag/check in system, etc. These roles help your ministry while developing students in leadership. Once youth group starts, set them loose as students once more. What you’ll find is your student leaders have even more buy in on youth group night which is an infectious culture to their peers!
Commission Students to Invite Others
The majority of new students who walk through your doors are there because students are inviting their friends. Developing an invite culture is an incredible way to communicate the role every student can play in gospel advancement. The tricky part is making sure you aren’t communicating the numbers are what matters instead of a ministry’s reach. Healthy ministries have a desire for God to grow their reach, not to grow their numbers. Healthy ministries also know the difference between those focuses (let that sink in for a second). If a student invites a friend and that friend gets saved, the inviting student is included directly in what God did to call a sinner out of the grave! An invite culture can be developed in your students having a burden for their lost friends to know, love, and follow Christ. The truth is: a student can reach far more than even the student pastor or leader can. In turn, an invite culture is usually an unashamed culture to represent Christ well in other areas even further than just an invite to youth group.
Anyone has the ability to encourage someone. The sad thing about most high school cultures is there is more negativity than positivity everywhere a student looks. Something you can do to point to a student’s potential to influence is challenge them to encourage at least one person intentionally each day. This can look like a quick text message, a hallway walk with intentional conversation, an appreciation post, or really any way to let someone know they are valuable, loved, and cherished. If done consistently, students will see just how their intentional words affect others in big ways!
There may not be a greater discipline to hone than that of prayer. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus prays a ton. Paul gives instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” In prayer, we are aligned to God’s desire in our life. This is crucial in understanding God wants to use us to reach, bless, and build. If a student will write down what they are praying for, it is incredible to be able to look back and see just how God is working in each and every prayer. This is a beautiful catalyst for students to understand even talking to God is valuable. Influencing others for God is easily the next step especially when praying for God to open doors to influence others.
There are a bunch of spiritual gift tests out there. Letting a test tell you what you’re good at can be a hit or miss but actually getting into an area of service will be the best way to see just how God has gifted someone. Diving head first into serving is a sure-fire way to realize a potential to influence. Easy for me to say, right? I know it’s not just that easy to get a student to serve. This is where you will have to get creative. Give suggestions of where you think a student would thrive in service. Give insight to leaders of other ministries in your church to help recruit students. If a student continues to hear they are wanted, the potential to try serving gets higher. Most people that will actually take the leap into serving will experience the fruit. It’s mind blowing to know God allows us to share in the blessings He gives. This is something else that is infectious in forming culture the understands potential in influence.
This post was written by Robb Hollifield. Robb serves as the senior high student pastor at Cross Creek Church in Fountain, CO. In addition to his role at Cross Creek, Robb serves weekly in a local skateboard ministry called P.R.O.C.E.S.S. in Colorado Springs.