Tag Archives: leadership

Developing Student Leaders Podcast

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Click image above to listen to my latest podcast.

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6 Tips to Build a Student Leadership Team

In recent years, I have found great value in having a student leadership team.  It’s not cliché, its true…Jesus spent additional time with a group of men to give them individual attention and help them reach their potential to start the early church.  In these student leadership teams, the goals are on a much smaller scaled compared to Jesus and His disciples, but the goal still remains to help them reach their spiritual potential and to be the next generation of leaders in the church.  Here’s some tips that have helped make the student leadership team a reality.

Ain’t No Such Thing as Small Potatoes.  Don’t be afraid to start small.  The first year I hosted a leadership team, there were only 2 participants.  Small is not always a bad thing.  Individual attention was given.  Questions were answered.  Real progress was accomplished in this small group.

Where do is sign?  Please make sure to have an application process.  You can’t just have a sign up list on the side of the youth room, and hope each person becomes a leader.  Have some requirements right off the bat like an application, and even an interview.  The requirement of the student leadership will be lofty, so the application process should not be just putting your name on a piece of paper.

Little Help Over Here.  Don’t be afraid to go find some help with leadership training.   May I make a suggestion?  The good people at LeaderTreks, particularly the 365 Leadership Training, is a great place to start.  Additionally, I scour the Christian leadership blogs, often sent to me by ChurchLeaders, and use the blogs as an opener to each of our meeting.

Thank You For Coming…Now What?  In addition to the leadership training curriculum and leadership articles, the key part of leadership training is the concept of “level above”.  It is a requirement for each participant to serve in the church in some capacity.  But that’s not enough to just serve in children’s ministry as a volunteer.  We take it a “level above” and require the student to teach or lead a portion of that children’s ministry.  If children’s ministry is not their thing, the requirement for volunteering in other areas of the church are go a “level above”.  We discuss each person’s individual assignments at the beginning of each meeting.

Put Them in the Game, Coach.  Part of training leaders is to give them opportunities to lead.  Sounds simple, but it takes some steps of faith, patience, and willingness to allow failure.  Sure, you could plan youth events easily by yourself.  But in leadership training, you must allow them to take the lead.  In the past, I’ve allowed students to plan events like the Christmas party, Super Bowl Party, and a Compassion International event.  But the doozy was the Easter Egg Hunt.  The teens were placed in charge, planned out the schedule, sought out volunteers, made phone calls, prepped the materials…it was their show.   Talk about a step of faith.  But let me tell ya, in the end, this was a valuable learning experience in leadership that was well worth the effort.

Personal & Prayerful.  Spend some time with them.  Ask for personal requests.  Invite them over for a lunch prior to the meeting so you can get to know the students.  Find ways to make the meeting time special so students want to come, and younger students have something they look forward to.

What do you do?  How have you built student leaders? 

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Book Review: Deep Influence

Book Review:  Deep Influence by T.J. Addingtondeepinfluence1

The Good:

Give Me Your Heart.  Right off the bat, the author goes after your heart.  This is not a surface “how-to” leadership book.  It truly follows the title and goes deep into the heart issues of leadership.

Are You Talking to Me?  Application is heavy in this one.  My goodness, the pages are full of tasks for any leader.  From personal exercises to interaction with staff, this book covers all bases of leadership, and provides practical tasks to make it happen.

Listen up Leaders.  This is a true leadership book for those in ministry and in the workplace.  It holds great value for those that want to leave an impact on those around them for generations to come.

Multiplication.  I caught myself saying YES when I consistently heard motivation for discipleship.  This is how it should be.  There needs to be a call for more discipleship and influence of others.  This book does a fantastic job of pleading for more discipleship AND showing the reader how to accomplish it.

The Bad:

Me, My, I.   While it comes close to arrogance at time, the author tends to talk about himself and his position of leadership a great deal.  While I like personal stories, it nearly becomes boasting at times.  The amount of personal pronouns in this book gets to be a little much at times.

Made Me Feel Bad.  OK, so this isn’t really a bad thing.  When you read a leadership book you should walk away challenged and with the realization that you need improvement.  This book will convict you.  You will find something wrong in your leadership, so get ready.

The Grade:  B.  Providing practical, deep, and influential practices of leadership, this book should be picked up by any leader seeking to improve.  Not allowing even the most successful to gain a feeling of arrival, anyone, at any age or accomplishment will find great value in the principles this book’s challenges and practical steps to better leadership.

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8 Ways Christians Should Handle Homosexuality

In a message at a teen leadership conference, the speaker brought up a good point.  Oftentimes, Christian mishandle the topic of homosexuality and cause more harm than good.  While there is certainly disagreements in lifestyle and behavior, there are things Christians can do differently and better to show we love others, specifically those in the homosexual community.  Here are a few ways we can be more consistent, loving, and Christ-like.

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  1. Handle sin the same – don’t ignore less or more popular sins
  2. Don’t expect people who don’t follow Christ to obey the Bible
  3. Carefully choose the way you protest
  4. Remember it’s more important to make a difference than a point (Don’t crush others to make yourself feel better)
  5. How you say what you say, is as important as what you say
  6. Don’t fear sharing what you believe – Remember the argument is not with the Bible, but with the writer of it
  7. Treat those with whom you disagree with love
  8. Be willing to live with the consequences of speaking the truth in love

(Taken from a message by David Whiting, Teen Leadership Conference at Baptist Bible College, July 2014)

 

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3 Leadership Principles from Jesus’ Life

Let me set this up for you, and I’ll try to do this quickly, since most of you probably will be skipping this intro anyway, and just skimming down to the bold list below.  Hey, I read blogs too, I’m not offended.

So, here is the breakdown of the story found in John 13:1-20.  Jesus begins to wash the feet of the disciples.  Peter refused to be washed by His Savior.  Jesus calms Him down, and ends up washed all of the disciples feet (yes, if you know the story of Jesus, that includes the one that would betray Him).

What does this story have to do with leadership?  Well, I am glad you asked.  Goodness, that was corny, but I’m still writing, and unwilling to push backspace.   Okay, no more waiting, here is the list of leadership principles in Jesus washing feet:

jesusleadershipHumility.  This was is pretty obvious, but it can’t be skipped over.  As the ultimate leader, Jesus was willing to do tasks that usually given to servants in the household.  Jesus was willing to clean the filthy feet of those that were about to scatter, abandon, and even betray him.  That takes it to a new level.  Talk about humility.  Jesus was going to receive nothing in this exchange, except rejection.

Service.  No act of service was beneath Jesus.  He was willing to wash filthy feet, and he was willing to give His life.  In terms of being a leader, nothing should be beneath us in service of God and others.  As a pastor, there may not be someone around to plunge the toilet.  As a youth leader, you may have to mop up the vomit.  As a servant in God’s kingdom, you may have to out of your comfort zone for the Gospel to be heard.  Don’t let any service for others, and especially God be beneath you.

Vision.  This was a brilliant move by our Savior.  Jesus was giving a powerful illustration of what He wanted from his followers.  Jesus, by humbly serving His disciples, was teaching the men, who Jesus would leave the Gospel message in their hands, how to be a leader.  He taught them they were not above the message or the subject of the message (verse 16).  Christ saw this as an opportunity to show how them an example of true humble service.  Serve God and others humbly, never thinking more of yourself.  Jesus said if He is willing to do this, as Lord, you should be willing to do it for others.

Humility.  Service.  Vision.  Want to be a leader?  I’d say these three things would be a good place to start.

 

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Mission Trip Training – 10 Steps to Prevent Disaster

What is the best way to prepare for a mission trip?  In a word…TRAINING.  You want to avoid the Romeo who tries to ask out the missionary’s daughter or the insurance deductible for what is left of the new orphanage wing…Well, here are 10 steps that will help prevent disaster and set the table for God to work.  (Disclaimer:  Accidents, Trials, and Difficulty can/will occur during mission trips, but there are some difficulty that can be avoided)MissionTrainingPortfolio

1.      Application Process

Mission Trips are serious business.  They must be handled differently than a trip to an amusement park.  You don’t just put a sign-up list on your bulletin board with cool font and clip-art graphics.  No, most of the trips are designed for those students serious about serving God and getting their hands dirty for Jesus Christ.   So what do you do?  You have an application process.  Have each student fill out an application, get references from their parents/guardians and another adult, and must be turned in by the deadline.  Following the application, have them interview with yourself (include parents & other leaders in the interview).  Lay out the expectations of the trip, the assignments, the attendance policy, and the behavior expected in each participant.  If the student cannot meet the expectations, it is in your and their best interest they are not part of the team.

2.      Here’s Your Notebook

Make it look official.  Give each student a notebook with the assignments, place for notes, support letter samples, contact information, prayer requests, release forms, etc.  Students will be able to keep their program assignments and other materials in one spot, and will be advised to take their folders on the trip.  Although it takes some work to put these notebooks together, it is well worth the effort.

Lessons for the notebook notes include Evangelism training, Bible studies on Missions, and assigned reading review.  Guest speakers from the church provide a great way to connect the generations in this effort.  I’ve had elementary teachers and children workers come speak on child evangelism, working professionals speak on leadership or give a “How to Paint” tutorial, and Spanish teachers teach us about Latin culture.

3.      Strict Attendance & Expectations

When I say strict, I mean it.  I give the students one excused absence from training which would include vacation, sickness, etc.  If they miss more than one, they will receive an extra assignment.  Two absences will result in a meeting with the parents.  Why so strict?  I want these students to take this trip seriously.  They will be representing Christ and our church in another state/country, and skipping training shows they don’t see the trip as important.

Also, as part of their attendance each time we meet, I ask each student about the following:  Devotions, Church Attendance, Book Reading, and other assignments.  If there is consistent neglect of these things, additional assignments, and/or meeting with the parents will occur.  If the negligence continues, the student may be dismissed from the team.

4.      Get Your Church On Board

Each year, we prepare a short 15 minute presentation to the church about the trip.  The students present the trip by preparing a PowerPoint, explaining the training, preparation, funds needed, and trip tasks.  A student also will pray for the trip following the presentation.  This shows ownership of the trip and the church will most likely get on board when they hear about the trip from the teenagers themselves.  (And when you get back, makes sure to organize a testimony service)

5.      Unwrap Gifts

unwrapThe last few years I have required that each incoming/new student fill out a Spiritual Gift Inventory.  Using the results of the inventory, I place each student in the groups that best suit their gifts and abilities.  Why would I place a shy introvert whose gift is serving in the lead teaching role?  Similarly, why would a type-A, brilliant communicator with a teaching gift be put in a primarily behind the scenes role?  Sure, there will be times when you go out of your comfort zone, but the primary role should be one that reflects their gifts and abilities, which will in turn allow them to reach their greatest potential for God’s glory.

Tasks and responsibilities could include/but not limited to:  Communicator, Work Coordinators, Team Encourager, Communication Assistants, Ministry Coordinators, Photographers, Prayer Coordinators, Public Relations, Praise Band Member, Teaching Team, Hospitality Team, Cleaning Crew, & Supply Team (Stay Tuned for Task & Responsibility explanation list later in the blog this month)

6.      Unity Doesn’t Just Happen

Unity takes so much work.  This past year we did a unity game and it was complete silence, frustration was high, and people were getting offended by their misuse.  But, we kept at it, continued to do unity games periodically in training, and the final unity activity gave me goosebumps…communication, laughter, leadership, encouragement…that was worth the effort.

7.      Provide Leadership Opportunities

Stretch your students to reach their potential in leadership.  Give them responsibility.  Allow failure, but be there to pick them up when they fail at times.  If the teens aren’t pushed and are not taken out of their comfort zone, your spiritual growth opportunity will decrease significantly.  Allow them to lead music, teach lessons, take the pictures, share the Gospel, lead the devotions…You let them lead, and it may be more work in the outset, but the blessings will be so much more than you ever expected.

8.      Practice Makes…It’s Never Gonna Be Perfect

This is a no-brainer.  You have to schedule time to practice.  Whether it is puppets, music, teaching lessons…give them time to practice during training.  Allow students to be leaders during these practices, particularly the upperclassmen running these practices of their particular part in the program.

9.      Don’t Forget About the Gospelmission-trip-checklist

Speaking of practice, give the students opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel, both real and imaginary.   Here’s what I mean.  Each year, I set up the gym like wherever we are going.  I typically ask 2 or 3 small groups to come and participate in a mock evangelism event acting like different kinds of people.  One year was a park in inner-city Chicago or New York, and other year we were at a camp with a whole bunch of adults acting like elementary kids.  It gives the teens opportunity to practice in a less-pressure filled environment.  As the teens mature and gain more experience, take them door-to-door or to local parks to talk to people about Jesus.

10.  Prayer

Last, but certainly NOT least, is prayer.  Inside the notebooks should be a list of prayer requests that you have for the trip.  Encourage students to pray for these regularly.  Design a prayer card with the team’s picture on it and send those out in your support letters.  Have those cards available in the lobby of the church for people to grab and put on their refrigerators.  Also, as seen in the responsibility list, designate 1 or 2 students to be prayer leaders.  Have these leaders design a prayer book for the trip, and during training have them lead the prayer time and also keep track of individual prayer requests along the way.

See 10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip for more trip information and resources.

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2012 Goals – How did I do?

Why set goals and not take the time to check them off.  Sure, God gets the credit, but you get to cross it off the list.  And man, that is a good feeling.  So let’s take a look at the 2012 Goals, and give myself some grades.

  1. Provide more leadership for students, become more student-led –One big thing I did this year was hand over the worship band to a student.  Straight up. Took some faith, but it was in capable hands. So I took it a step further, I gave the students 1 youth group a month…literally gave it to them.  The 1st Sunday of the month, they do everything – I’m talking attendance, announcements, opening game, worship, & prayer time.  GRADE:  A2012goals
  2. Find more ways for students to connect & serve within the church – Students were already doing children’s ministry, my goal was to expand the students involvement and expand the student involvement.  Sounded like I repeated myself, but I didn’t, so leave me along Grammar Police!  What I did was raised the number of students involved in children’s ministry and I also raised the expectation of service for the experienced students (example:  some taught the lesson, and others were in charge of the craft/game).  Students can’t be just there to get out of service, because they won’t be able to get of service (see what I did there?).  GRADE:  B
  3. Begin contacts & establishing a public school ministry – Why is this so hard?  I attended a FCA meeting, and was able to make some visits to school’s extracurriculars.  However, I did not meet my goal.  Principals don’t want to return calls to youth pastors, so they don’t, and I haven’t had a door to walk through yet.  I may have found one recently, so stay tuned.  But otherwise, this was my biggest failure.  GRADE:  D
  4. Summer Mission Trip & Training – 4 months of training – included high behavioral expectation, weekly homework, development of several kid’s chapels, and raising funds.  Then, the trip itself was a complete success.  How do I measure that?  Through the growth of the teens both on the trip and after.  God also blessed us with 2 salvation decisions of kids…amen!  GRADE:  A-
  5. Attend Teen Leadership Conference – 4 Teens attended.  4 Lives were changed.  GRADE:  B+
  6. Better visitor  follow-up & visitor return – Ok, I developed a visitor follow up procedure.  But I still have not had the return that I would like.  Out of the 23 visitors, only 3 are regular attenders.  Sure, the others have repeated visits, which is great, but the regularity needs to improve.  GRADE:  C-
  7. Better orientation for 7th graders – Designed a program/class to help transition the 7th graders and had an event to help with the transition.  Seemed to be effective, but attendance of class was minimal.  Thought good, execution poor.  GRADE:  C
  8. Better Transition for Seniors into Young Adult & Adult Ministries  – This was a home run.  I did a series on worldviews that transitioned the seniors into the young adult ministry.  Saw a great return in that investment.  One senior in particular, who may not have made a clean transition otherwise, is thriving due to the gradual transition from youth group to young adult.  Very pleased with how things went.  GRADE:  A
  9. Continue ministry training/mentorship with senior pastor – How many youth pastors can say they both love their pastor and love the mentorship they receive.  Two thumbs up from this guy.  I’m serious.  So much knowledge, wisdom, and experience in that man, and I’m blessed to have it passed to me.  GRADE:  A
  10. I had a goal a few years ago to read at least one book a month. So let’s go for 2 books a month this year.  By my count, I have read 13 books with 5 almost finished or partly finished.  Unless magazines count, I’m gonna fall short of this goal.  GRADE:  Incomplete

Grade Point Average:  3.0, with average grade of B (not counting Incomplete)

Conclusion:  Sure some of these things were out of my control and some were set too high (I’m a slow reader!), but overall a B average is pretty good.  However, it isn’t good enough, especially when we are talking about ministry.  There are areas for improvement for sure.  IT was nice to see that these goals were measurable and somewhat reachable.

It is a blessing to do God’s work, and God deserves straight A’s.  Please pray that I can get better grades next year!  (2013 Goals – Stay tuned for next month’s blog entry)

How did you do?  Were there things that could not be accomplished on your 2012 goals list?  What are some goals you have for 2013?

 

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5 Tips for Developing a Student Leadership Team

First, you get a whole bunch of kindling, then start a big fire, make some students take off their shoes, and tell each of them they need to be a leader..

Okay, maybe it worked for Moses, but you don’t need a burning bush incident to get your students to be a leader.  Here are 5 tips for starting a Student Leadership Team:

  1. Announce or Don’t Announce – The small dilemma of announcing or not announcing leadership training being offered, I feel is a tough one.  Some youth pastors will simply hand pick those they feel are ready for leadership training or discipleship.  While others may want to announce it and see what follows.  Either way, this is the start of the process – getting the word out.
  2. Age Limit – While leadership training happens throughout the process of youth ministry, it is smart to limit the formal training to upper classmen.  This, hopefully, will eliminate the maturity issue and also allows the younger students to have something to look forward to in the future.
  3. Keep the Bar High –Don’t settle for uncommitted, only doing this so it looks good on their college application, parents made me be here, couldn’t care less…students!  Make the requirements high and KEEP them there.  Attendance at meetings and regular youth group times, doing the homework, and even behavior/spiritual development requirements are a must.
  4. Make ‘Em Earn It -Why not make them earn their way.  Make them interview for the position on the leadership time.  You may even want them to get recommendations filled out by other adults/parents/teachers.  Those that really want to be on the team will do these things and will be more likely to be committed to your team down the road.  This is another way to weed out the garden, so to speak.
  5. Blueprints – Don’t be afraid to plan ahead.  Find the curriculum, book you want to assign, compile notebooks…and the list goes on.  Work ahead so it resembles an actual training course.  This will get easier the more you have the leadership training meetings

More ideas…bring it on!  Would love to hear what works for your student leaders.

 

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