Brainstorming for a Student Leadership Team

Student Leadership TeamThere are several students in my new youth ministry who are great leaders and man, I wanna make sure they get all the training and experience they need to serve their peers! So, I’m starting a Student Leadership Team (SLT). I’ve never formed a team like this before and the church has never had a Student Leadership Team, so it’s a trial and error learning experience for both of us. Here’s my brainstorming so far. Any input or suggestions is greatly appreciated!

To train, develop and equip godly student leaders to impact their generation for Christ.

Selection process
Sr. High students are nominated by the adult volunteer team and youth pastor based on the following qualifications:

  • Potential leadership ability.
  • Desire for spiritual and personal growth.
  • Emotional, mental and spiritual maturity.
  • Commitment to the student ministry at Alexandria Evangelical Covenant Church.
  • Respect for peers and adults.
  • Willingness to serve humbly and sacrificially.
  • Teachable spirit.

…of all students

  • Attend monthly SLT Bible studies and accountability groups.
  • Regularly attend church services, participate in worship and commit to tithing.
  • Regularly attend youth group meetings and activities.
  • Be diligent, faithful and dependable in individual areas of responsibly.
  • Attend scheduled trainings, retreats, trips and special events for the SLT.
  • Respectfully follow the leadership and instructions of the mentoring adult leader.
  • Debrief with mentoring adult leader after exercising leadership responsibilities.
  • Commit to regular prayer, Bible study, evangelism, personal worship, scripture memorization and accountability in these areas among other students on the SLT.
  • Attend select adult volunteer meetings and trainings.
  • Participate in problem-solving.
  • Find areas of need in the youth ministry and offer suggestions for improvement.
  • Always publicly support and protect the youth ministry, its leaders and decisions. Address frustrations and concerns privately with the youth pastor, mentor and SLT.
  • Diffuse gossip, rumors and conflict.
  • Be a leader before being a friend.
  • Stay positive even when things go bad.
  • Serve school by praying for it, connecting with other Christians, and meeting the new people.
  • Intentionally find ways to encourage other students.
  • Serve as Angel Tree camp counselors.
  • Practice as many of these items as possible at home.

…of select individual students

  • Lead a Bible study at school.
  • Assist an adult volunteer in a small group as an apprentice.
  • Prepare and lead aspects of youth meetings, including prayer times, announcements, games, Bible lessons, music, worship, lighting, PowerPoint, event registrations, etc.
  • Intentionally build relationships with youth group visitors, record their contact information and follow-up later that week.
  • Follow-up with students who have missed more than two- weeks of youth group or small groups.
  • Serve in Childrens Ministry and Jr. High ministry.
  • Get other students involved by leading a ministry team (drama or worship team, for example).
  • Organize student involvement in Sunday morning services.
  • Maintain music CD library system.
  • Maintain a directory of contact info for the youth group.
  • Website design, updates, forum moderation.
  • Graphic design and video production for Bible lessons, ministries, and worship.
  • Any other area as deemed appropriate by the youth pastor, mentors and student leader.

…of the Youth Pastor

  • Lead monthly in-depth Bible studies through theology that challenges each student in their individual walks with Christ. “How to study the Bible.”
  • Provide trainings for the SLT in their areas of responsibility.
  • Discover areas for character development in each student and address them individually.
  • Assign leadership responsibilities to students based on the individual’s spiritual gifts, passions and vision for ministry.
  • Assign an adult mentor to each student.
  • Train adult volunteers to teach and utilize their SLT student effectively.
  • Provide encouragement and input for all mentors and student leaders.
  • Oversee the SLT ministry.

…of mentoring adult volunteers

  • Contact the student outside of church once a week to pray together and encourage him/her.
  • Speak well of the student both privately and publicly.
  • Report to the youth pastor on a monthly basis about the struggles and successes of the student leader.
  • Assign tasks to the student leader in their area of responsibility.
  • Ensure that the student is successful and learns from each experience.
  • Debrief with the student after each experience to review what was done well and discuss what can be done better.

Posted on April 8, 2007

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  • Hey good work…we are in the process of creating a student leader team as well…Good job including requirements to be “problem solvers”

  • In my ten years of youth ministry I’ve had the chance to start and run two SLT’s. Based on what you’ve written in your post you’re right on target with your purposes and responsibilities. No doubt God is directing you. I can tell you this…not only will the SLT be great for your students, but for you as well. God used the SLT students in my former ministries to teach me alot. I’ll be praying for you as you train, develop and equip the students God will bring into the SLT.

  • ben

    I’ve led multiple teams of student leaders in my ten years of ym, based on my experience I would offer two contrasting ideas:

    1. What you have laid out looks very thorough. For more info on continuing in that direction, Calvary Church in Grand Rapids. They have a very thorough ten level plan that they use. You’ve probably covered most of it already, but it might be helpful in your formative stage.

    2. The other idea would be the one laid out in Chris Folmsbee’s book, “A New Kind of Youth Ministry.” He talks about moving away from leadership teams and towards a community of contributors where each student is valued as a contributor to the ongoing mission of your group. I’ve had good success with leadership teams, and I’m now experiencing a great dynamic with a community of contributors.

    That’s my 1.5 cents.

  • Brian is right. SLTs help you grow in so many ways, especially in how to let go and direct people. Your list looks really good. Grant English is supposedly about to publish an Ebook on his process of developing leaders, both adult and student. I got to preview it and it is the best thing I have seen in one document. I’m sure he would be glad to make it available.

    Personally, I like to have an interview process. It provides a tone of how serious this is and let’s them look at somethings about themselves (the application is 6 pages). In it they share there testimony, what God is doing in their lives right then and where they see God leading them, among other things.

    One more caution. I would have something ready to tell people who wanted to get into SLT but weren’t selected, especially parents. The potential for hurt feelings is huge and I would have a way of responding ready for that to help them understand your selection process.

  • Tim

    @ Isaac and Brian: Thanks for your encouragement.

    @ Ben: Thanks for the recommended resource. I’m gonna check it out.

    @ Paul: I was actually thinking about an interview/application process, but I wasn’t sure why it was necessary when the nominees have already proven themselves by demonstrating that they’re “SLT” quality. I thought maybe it could be useful for students who weren’t nominated but still want to be a part of the team, but I haven’t figured that part out yet.

    As for what to say to people who aren’t selected but want to be on the team, that’s a concern I’ve been thinking through this whole time, but haven’t come up with a good answer for. Can you help me out here?

  • Hey, it is good to see somebody in the same boat as us. My wife and I are semi-volunteer youth leaders (get paid a small stipend), and are looking to start a team w/ our great student leaders, so they can have some more directive, and be more effective. Thanks for posting your thoughts, I have been having a hard time organizing mine into something that people outside of my brain could understand.

  • Tim

    Sure thing, Tyler. Feel free to take and use any of this that might be helpful for you.

  • Tim,

    I think there needs to be a selection process (public or not) that allows for students to “have hope” if they are not immediately on the team.

    Application/Interviews also give you more authority – you have “appointed them” and they have agreed without the application/interview, but if they obtain an app, go through the process AND agree to uphold the standards…you have a lot of buy in up front…

    There also may be some who you think would be great…but who don’t want to put that much effort into – just signing a “covenant” or an agreement doesn’t require much – but a process does…

    Thanks for the post…this is helping me as I form my team…

  • Jeff

    I like it…

    The only thing I have a problem with is “Serve in Junior High and Children’s Ministry”

    Why not have them connected with something other then those two ministries?

  • Tim

    Good observation, Jeff. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • I have been in youth ministry for 4 years and I myself just started SLT’s. I believe you are right on track. Thanks for the help you gave me also. There were some ideas there that I hadn’t thought of. I will tell you what though, in just the short time I have been a youth pastor, I was used to doing it all. Last week was our first week with the teams and man did I enjoy my Sunday so much better. I am looking forward to tonight also because I don’t have to do so much anymore and I can strengthen my relationship more with the teens cause I am not so busy with getting things ready. Plus it prepares them to lead in their church. I found a statistic that said out of your group, only 1 percent will serve in their, or a local church. We need to change that and giving them these opportunities is a good way.

  • Great Stuff… I really liked the adult volunteer mentorship.

    I want to also commend you on putting them in your adult volunteer meetings. This has been huge for us to develop a mutual respect between Student Leaders adn Adult Volunteers.

    I began a SLT in the fall and we are currently working through Doug Fields Book, “Help, I’m a Student Leader.” I’ve found this book helpful in reinforcing the values that I want in a SLT.

    Here are a few additional thoughts to consider:
    * Have your team be a part of all set up and tear down functions.
    * Have an open application process that enables everyone to fill out an application. The application can weed out those that are not serious.
    * Take your SLT on a retreat (I’ve also taken them on Christian College Visits)

    A final question. What will be the duration of the group and will it be closed annually, semi annually, etc.

  • Tim

    Hey Matt, thanks for your input! I actually have greatly expanded this list since I first posted it. It’s now a 20-something page document! lol I’ll probably post it eventually on here. It goes into a lot of detail and covers many different aspects of the SLT that isn’t addressed here.

    Per your thoughts to consider:
    * I actually opted to have a team of students that is lead by a student on the SLT organize the set-up and tear-down for every meeting. I want the SLT to be used to involve other students rather than just do everything themselves.
    * My process actually turned into an application/interview/three references/five prayer partners process. That should weed out some people.
    * I already have one SLT training event lined up for them in June: leading inner-city Angel Tree kids for a week at camp.
    * The duration of the SLT commitment is one school year. It’s really hard to establish areas of ministry that the student leaders take ownership over if it changes every couple months.

    I’ll post all 20-some pages of my final product as a PDF download sometime within the next couple weeks.

  • Hey Tim.. thank you for your post and future post of that awesome resource!!
    I am looking at starting an SLT and I need all the help/direction… I am actually meeting on this tomorrow with my staff team. Would you mind emailing me that pdf?


  • this is great information. We are in the process of working through this at our church!

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