In addition to requiring student leaders to read, another way I train and equip students for leadership and in particular, for creating a culture of welcome is through blogging. Blogging forces teens to intentionally think about their faith throughout the week. It also gives our team another avenue for communication and a vehicle for working through and making decisions throughout the week.
To be clear, I'm using the word “blogging” loosely. A more accurate description might actually be a discussion forum.
Regardless, to protect teens and make our blog a safe place for them to share, our blog is private – only our team can access it. Student leaders know they're expected to complete the blog – it's one of the things listed in our team covenant. I post blogs early in the week (on Mondays or Tuesdays). Team members can then answer them until Saturday at noon – a deadline that gives me time to pull together their responses for our face-to-face meetings each Sunday.
Each week, I post a blog prompt, typically in the form of 3 questions. I ask one question that has to do with faith formation, one about leadership, and one that is super practical. During the summer, as teens complete their required reading, both the faith formation and leadership questions are typically related to the book we're reading together. I then use teens' answers as a starting point for the week's discussion.
During the school year, faith formation questions might be some of the accountability questions they've designed or they might be related to spiritual goals they've set for themselves. They might also be a follow-up to a discussion we've had either in leadership or in our youth ministry, designed to get student leaders thinking about a particular subject or Scripture passage at a deeper level.
During the school year, questions about leadership might be based on a leadership quote or like the faith formation questions, drawn from the accountability questions we've chosen. Sometimes they're more reflective in nature, designed to help teens think about how well they functioned as student leaders at a particular event.
Practical questions are just that. They're insanely practical, designed to help teens either prepare for an upcoming event or to problem solve. Sometimes, they're stand alone questions, meaning we resolve them exclusively through our conversation on the blog. Other times, I use them as a springboard for an in-person discussion.
As with required reading, blogging is NOT my student leaders' favorite responsibility. Yet, it's invaluable for furthering our conversations, holding them accountable, and perhaps most importantly, teaching them that leadership is far more about being faithful than it is about getting glory. Sometimes the best way to learn faithfulness is by doing routine behind-the-scenes tasks – like blogging - that no one else knows about, week in and week out.
Other posts in this series: