This weekend we had students takeover youth group for another STORIES Weekend. We have fun games and music, and then instead of an adult teaching we turn the microphone over to students to share their stories of life change. We have this type of weekend several times a year and they’re always a HUGE hit with our students.

This week right before the first student got up to share I gave HSM’s “House Rules” – just some simple reminders for the audience to consider when one of their peers is getting up to teach. They were really well received and students followed them perfectly. Here they are in case they’re helpful to your youth group, too:

1 — “Cheer them on!”
It is a BIG deal for a student to share their story in front of their peers. When their name is called or when they’re finished, cheer them on! Celebrate! Applaud! It is a huge step for someone to be vulnerable up in front of their peers, your affirmation will mean the world to them.

2 — “Give the students sharing your attention…”
Put away your phones. Resist the temptation to find out why your phone just vibrated in your pocket. Don’t talk to the person next to you. Tune in, feel what the person is saying. Your attention is a a huge statement of value and community. Be present.

3 — “Remember each of these students is still on the journey…”
Just because someone shares on stage doesn’t mean they are perfect. In fact, they’re just like you – bound to have the ups and downs, wins and loses, victories and defeats of teenage life. Don’t expect just because someone shares that they have everything all together. We’re all a work in progress.

This is our attempt to show grace and encourage everyone involved, as well as build culture where students aren’t afraid to share their spiritual journey.

What other “house rules” would you add?