If I had the chance to go back and talk to my younger self, students serving in the ministry is something I would have made a priority. I wish I would have seen the enormous impact it could have on the student ministries I previously led. Successfully integrating this into your ministry can change the whole culture of the ministry. Let’s be honest, we all know numbers is not the MAIN thing in our ministry but it is a thing. The elder or deacon always asks the same question, “How many did you have last week?” If not, they make comments such as, “The ministry is doing well” on the nights you have a big number of students show up. Students serving other students can be a huge help in increasing the number of students that attend and are changed by your ministry.
I know the culture is different for every group/church but the benefits of having students serve in your ministry far outweigh the cost. Here are a few different benefits it can have for your ministry and for you personally.
Their gifts are different than your gifts
God has gifted and wired each student for a specific task. You will accomplish so much more in your ministry when you figure out how each student is wired and give them the chance to use their gift. I love this aspect of student’s serving. I am absolutely terrible at staying organized. Luckily, I have a student who has the gift of organization. I rely on her to plan events, organize rooms for trips, and so much more. It gives her a way to use her gift while also freeing me up to take care of other tasks.
It does take a good bit of time to figure out how to use students and their gifts in the ministry but it will be really beneficial down the road. The best resource I have found on this is “Student Leaders Start Here” by Doug Franklin (Leadertreks). It’s so helpful in walking students through the different gifts and how those gifts can be helpful in student ministry.
Every good sports team has different people that accomplish different tasks. Imagine a soccer goalie trying to play striker, or Tom Brady playing linebacker? Every position has specific tasks that they need to accomplish in order to be successful. The same goes in the context of student ministry. Unleashing students to use their gifts will free you up more and allow students the chance to do what God has designed them to do.
They are around students more than you
It’s no secret that students are constantly around other students. They are at school and involved in extra curricular activities together almost daily.
For most of us, we have to make plans and get special permission if we want to be around students in their schools. Students are constantly around other students in their everyday life. That means that they do not have to go out of their way to connect or have conversations with students who are not churched.
That will be a huge benefit to you and your ministry. Lives will be changed when the students serving in your ministry realize that the school is their mission field and their friends are their mission. Students being around more students than you helps lead to the third and most important reason we should make student’s serving a priority.
Their reach is wider than yours
I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear. You spent years and who knows how much money getting that college degree only to hear that students can reach other students better than you can. It’s reality though. Nobody can reach students like students.
It’s going to be really difficult to have an effective student ministry without having meaningful relationships. Hopefully, your core group of students will already have meaningful relationships with un-churched students. Those un-churched students are way more likely to come when they are invited by someone their own age and someone that they already know.
Very few students will come to a student ministry for the first time without knowing anyone. As rare as that is, it does happen sometimes. That’s where you need other students serving, getting out of their comfort zone, and step up to build relationships with the new students in your ministry.
One thing I love using students for is discipleship. It’s so exciting to think about students just discussing and growing in God’s word together. As leaders, we may understand the culture a bit but nobody understands what students go through like other students. When students serve they disciple other students then church goes from being about information to being about transformation. That’s what we want student ministry to be!
We spend years upon years trying to figure out how to reach students when the answer is right in front of us. One of the very best things you can do to reach more students with the gospel is to allow students to serve. A well-trained group of students can make a huge impact on your student ministry. More than that, a well-trained group of student can make a huge impact for the kingdom of God!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C.J. SMITH
C.J. has been in student ministry for 9 years and in my current position for over 6 years. Currently C.J. is serving as Student Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Rockingham, NC. He has been married to his wife, Amber, since May of 2010. They are huge Tennessee Volunteer fans and have a four year old son named Neylan. He am a sports junkie who loves students!