Because one of the reasons for starting this blog was to give prospective churches a better understanding of who I am and my heart for ministry, I, from time to time, like to post applicable questions and my answers to those questions, to help achieve that goal.
So here are a few. Feel free to leave feedback on your own ideas and answers.
(*Disclaimer - all these questions have been asked of me in the interview process, I can't take credit for the questions!)
How would you “in a nutshell” describe what a “successful” student ministry looks like?
Youth groups are often measured by the number of people in attendance; however, I feel it should be measured by the number and depth of changed lives. Youth ministry is an on-going process where the goals and tasks are constantly changing and there isn’t a finish line on this side of Heaven. However, there are key things, as a student minister, that I am always striving to see amidst my students and amidst my ministry.
First and foremost, I long to reach students and bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray that the student ministry is equipping disciples to further the Gospel and reach their schools and communities for Christ. A God-centered student ministry should be reproducing itself, not by my works, but by the passion of excited and energized students, on fire for Christ. A thriving ministry has students who pray, speak truth, ask tough questions, show love, desire life-change, and are reaching and making a true impact on a community.
I personally believe a successful student ministry should be reaching not only the student, but the entire family as well. It is my job, as well as the other adult volunteers, to walk alongside the family amidst this daunting task of raising teenagers. I want to see life changes in students, but also see families being strengthened in Christ.
How are you growing personally as a leader?
Of course, within my ministry, I am always striving to grow and mature as a leader. I meet with fellow student ministers, gather new ideas, attend enrichment conferences, and submit myself to the accountability of a mentor. I am always striving to better myself in every area of ministry from administration to sermon writing.
In my personal life, I am listening to pod casts (Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, David Platt, etc) keeping a journal, reading books, and getting involved in ministries away from my own church ministry. I strive to be a godly husband and father as I lead my home to be one that is centered upon Jesus Christ. It is my goal to never be satisfied with performance, and I long to constantly better myself in every area of leadership – both personally and professionally.
What is your process for recruiting/developing adult volunteer leaders?
Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety.” I cannot imagine a student ministry without adult volunteer leaders. Each one plays such a key role in helping make decisions and in making an impact in the lives of students. It is impossible for me to have deep relationships with every student, so I rely heavily on my adult volunteers to help in any and all areas of ministry.
I once heard a wise youth communicator give a model for adult volunteer leadership. The leadership cycle: find them, train them, empower them, challenge them, and find more. It is my desire to perfectly emulate this cycle.
For recruiting volunteers, I begin to look for people who are called to minister to students. I extend a personal invitation, cast a vision for where I see the student ministry going, and invite them to join us. I have developed a checklist of Biblical requirements that each volunteer must adhere to and standards by which they must abide. Examples of requirements are having a personal relationship with Jesus, being able to share with others the plan of salvation, attend church regularly, thoroughly prepare for each lesson, be in good standings with the church, and submitting to volunteer development. Once a covenant, agreeing upon those terms, has been signed, I would immediately begin putting their talents into action.
After an initial group is formed, I begin asking my already-established volunteers for recommendations and suggestions. I want all who are willing, able, and meet the requirements to find a place to serve within the student ministry.
Developing volunteers is most effectively achieved with constant, ongoing communication. I like to hold monthly meetings to make sure we are all on the same page. I like to meet one-on-one (or with my wife when meeting with female leaders), so that I can have a better understanding as to the heart of each volunteer and the progress each one is making. I believe it is also important to hold a biannual evaluation of adult volunteers. It is a time for me to evaluate them, as well as a time for them to cast light onto my weaknesses and to expose areas of growth and potential.
*This an area I am striving to improve on, and I hope with each experience, that I am becoming more efficient in this area.
What is your process for developing student leaders?
Matthew 20:26 says, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” This is often a very difficult principle for Christians to understand. Most students want to become leaders because they want to be in the limelight or the center of attention. However, this is not Christ’s example. If you want to be a leader, not just a student leader, but a Christian leader, you must learn to lead like Jesus and serve others.
Therefore, I strive to develop student leaders through discipleship and accountability followed by finding a place to serve. Whether it be outside the walls of the church - through service projects and mission trips - to right in our own ministry by running the sound booth or stacking chairs – finding a place to serve is essential. Those who are doing the work of the ministry by serving others – that is a true leader.
As always, feel free to contact me or leave some feedback! Hope you found this helpful.