How to help students take ownership over their youth group

I know a lot of youth workers struggle with trying to help their students take ownership over their youth group. Sometimes it’s because it’s not clearly understood by either the youth worker or the student what it is exactly they’re taking ownership of. Other times it’s because “taking ownership” is really a fancy way of getting kids to do some work.

In my experience I’ve noticed that most ownership comes naturally to students when they know you, trust you and even love you. This means you have to get involved in their lives. Invite kids over for a meal, go to their games and concerts, take them out for pizza after school, etc. This year I’m even helping to coach the high school wrestling team, so now I’m on their campus every day after school.

Here’s two recent examples of how students have taken ownership in my youth group based on our relationship.

Story 1. I meet with a high school guy every Wednesday after school to go out to eat and do one-on-one discipleship stuff. Because of the relationship we’ve developed, I asked him last night at youth group, “Hey Kyle, here’s the game I’m thinking about leading, but I’m not sure if it’ll work or not. What do you think?” He told me it was lame and offered a different idea, which was great! So I asked him if he’d lead his game idea for us. He agreed and took over and everyone had a lot of fun.

Story 2. Another girl in the youth group is close to my wife. This girl really has a heart for people who are less fortunate and thereby is a huge fan of 30-Hour Famine. Rather than me planning the whole thing, she agreed to help with it, but now she’s taking charge of the whole thing without me. She just needed to see that she has our support.

So I think it works like this:
1. Develop the relationship.
2. Have them join you in ministry.
3. Give them ownership of it.

Jumping to #3 doesn’t work.

Posted on December 10, 2007

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