I recently heard it succinctly put this way, “older students in our youth ministries will either lead or leave.” It’s easy to become discouraged about the older students in ministry not always being fully connected. But it’s an encouragement to know that we can give them the opportunities and the tools to serve in ministry. It doesn’t cost much money to develop leaders, but it does take time and it takes a plan. You have to be intentional.
Here are some standard ways for students to be leaders in and through the ministry:
Have them help lead in worship – our student worship band is full of late high school and early college students who have been leading now together for about 5 years. They are there each week – faithfully.
Give them other roles in the youth gatherings – tech, hospitality, follow-up, speaking, small group leading, publicity, social media, videos, planning, etc. There is a role for everyone depending on where they are in their faith walks.
Get them plugged into church worship services – granted, this at times it is easier for smaller to midsized churches, but no matter what size your church is, help your students engage – ushers, choir, band, sound board, video cameras, welcome / greeters, reading scripture, preaching, etc.
Allow them to serve on leadership teams – boards in church may be a possibility, children’s Sunday school teaching team rotation, nursery staff, etc.
Involve them in planning – for a specific outreach event, a summer mission trip, or a weekend retreat or conference.
Invite them to mentor a younger student in the ministry – figure out ways to connect an older student with a younger student. When I was a freshmen, a group of us had a bible study with a high school senior each week. It was awesome.
The list really goes on and on. What are some ways that you are inviting older students to lead? Do you see a difference in their lives? In their growth? Do you see an increased level of participation? What ways do you need to begin inviting them to lead?