September 2, 2015

Ten Things Students Need from Adult Leaders

Recently I led a training event for our student ministry with adult volunteer leaders.  I had a good plan and was excited about the opportunity to pour time, energy, and student ministry principles into adults.  This was going to be a different training than I had ever done before.  I decided to load all the leaders onto a bus and go to several schools to pray over the schools.  While driving to those schools we would train leaders.  It was an awesome night where we went to three different schools.

Praying over Gadsden Elementary School and all of Crockett County Schools
While I was preparing for the event I had a question that I kept asking myself, "what would students say is their biggest need from adult leaders in the student ministry?"  So I asked a few of our students leaders what their biggest needs where from adult leaders.  I was amazed at their answers.  Below is what I found out.  I then added my own thoughts and insights to the list in italics.

10. Be prepared to teach me when its time to teach me. 
Show up prepared and ready to teach. Reading from the lesson guide word for word is not being prepared. Spend extra time owning the lesson before you arrive. We should also be there ten minutes before the first student arrives if at all possible.

9. Invest in my life outside of regular programs.
Walk with students through life outside of the hour you have programed at church. If you are going to build trust with students you will have to engage them in life outside of a timed hour event.

8. Have a real faith outside of church and tell me about it.
Share with students what you are studying and how you are growing closer to the Lord every day. It’s even ok to be vulnerable and let them know about your struggles in walking with God daily (reading struggles, doubts, dry valleys, not your sin habits.) Let them know what God is calling you to do and how he is leading your life. Teach students how to do the same.

7. Love me when I fail.
They are students; they will fail. Love them even though they fail. You are going to hurt for them and that pain is natural. Don’t give up on them. Don’t let them see your disgust in their failures and pray them through it.

6. Show me how to share my faith.
Don’t just teach students words and models about sharing their faith; take them out into the world and help them learn from you how to share their faith.

5. Worship God for real. 
Engage in worship at all times. Be an active worshipper, listener, note taker, etc. Students are watching you and they are looking to you to know how to worship. Authenticity is the key.

4. Care about me.
When you are early and prepared for the hour it shows you care. When you smile and are welcoming to students it shows you care. When you check up on students throughout the week it shows you care. When you actively listen to students it shows you care. Just care for students and do it well.

3. Listen to me.
Some of the only time anyone really listens to students is at church. Students need you to listen actively and attentively. Look for moments to listen. Small groups should be 90% listening and 10% talking as a leader; even with middle school kids.

2. Help me establish standards and hold me accountable to them.Students really do want to know what your standards are and why they should have standards in their own life. They are looking for you to help them establish those standards and for you to hold them accountable to them. This isn’t about social behavior; it is about your standards in life as you follow Christ to holiness.

1. Stop being my friend and be the leader I need you to be.
More than a friend, a student needs a leader who loves them, cares for them, listens to them, leads them, corrects them, teaches them, and so many other things. Be a leader not a friend.

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