How Student Leadership Teams Hurt Your Ministry

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As a teen there was nothing better than receiving that phone call asking me to be on the leadership team for the next retreat.  It meant being a part of a select few who got to call the shots, plan the activities and give tear jerking talks.  As a member of the leadership team I was in the spot light, people looked to me as a spiritual guru, it was a total ego boost.
Let’s just say it wasn’t a healthy system and when I was finally humbled, it wasn’t a pretty picture.
Every church should be filled with student leaders; however, not every church should have a student leadership team.  It’s odd to think that you can have one without the other; however, when you form a specific team you take the risk of hurting the student ministry.  How do you know if it’s hurting?  You know when your student leadership team:

  • Creates Cliques – This group should not be exclusive, in fact it should constantly be growing.  The goal of your ministry should be to form every student into a leader.  The moment it becomes a group that doesn’t grow in size is the moment it starts becoming consumeristic.
  • Serves Only The Youth Ministry – While peer to peer ministry is positive, it isn’t the only way teens can serve.  Teenagers should be serving in every area of your church, from greeting at the door, to helping with cleaning the building.  When you get them serving alongside adults you are partnering them with positive Christian role models.
  • Draws You Away From What’s Most Important – A student leadership team will require a lot of your attention, and it should.  These are teens looking to make an impact and if they aren’t given guidance it’s easy for them to fall of the path.  The only problem is when you give them too much attention and it starts to affect the other areas of your job.  There need to be a balance and unfortunately student leadership teams can demand a lot.

If you decide to form a student leadership team and discover it becoming consumeristic, shut it down.  It might be hard, and you might face some adversity; however, if the group is wasting time and resources, then it will never help you grow the student ministry (Or the church).
Instead of forming a specific leadership team for your student ministry, consider encouraging teens to become a part of the adult leadership groups of your church.  This way you’ll surround them with positive models who can pour into them in a different light.  On top of the partnerships, you give them a taste of what serving in the church as an adult looks like.  When you can do that you’ll have a better chance of them serving when they leave for college.

Do you think I’m overreacting?  What are the benefits of a student leadership team?  What are the downsides?