We are getting ready to close out one of my favorite things we do all year.
YOU OWN THE NIGHT.
This is a series where we allow 5 high schools take over our services and the students on our student leadership team run and organize students from their school to put on a Gospel driven service for their friends… who they invite to come see service.
There are no adults on stage for weeks. They do everything. They plan, organize, sing, lead games, announcements and even teach and it’s 100% peer lead. It’s so fun to watch students take ownership of the ministry they are involved in.
I love/hate when people say, “Oh, so you get 4 weeks off then.” HAHAHAHAHA…. no.
It’s actually 10 times more work as you meet with students and their friends to help them organize, take them shopping for supplies and read through message content to make sure there is no heresy (learned from experience on that one… oops), but it is so worth it.
Here are reasons why you should do it:
- Your students take ownership and pride in their ministry. Schools have rallies and big rivalries for sports and students own it all. They make posters, sport their colors and logos and go nuts for school. Why? Because they own it. Allowing students to take over, does the same thing. I don’t mind a little competition because as students are planning out services, they want to be the best, so the bar has been raised year after year. Students come in a decorate the entire campus in their school colors, they have borrowed their mascot costumes and have them during service, they have had their cheer leaders and drum line come and open up service…. they own it and take pride in their school but more importantly, the ministry they are a part of and feel like they belong too. It’s fun to watch.
- Your students reach is far greater than yours. I can go around campus and interact with the students I know and meet a few of their friends in the process. When students take ownership for a service, they want to invite friends and have them be a part of the service in some way and their friends come to see. We have had students who would have never stepped foot on a church campus come, hear the Gospel, accepted Jesus and now are some of our core students. All because students owned the night.
- It could be the antidote to the spring time lull. I’m not saying it will be the case for every ministry but we do our series in the spring. If you are in ministry for any length of time, you know the spring is a lower time (typically) for attendance. For us, it actually has boosted everything. Not only our attendance but our exposure to new students about summer camps, small groups and overall momentum going into the summer because students are excited to own a night and invite their friends.
- It allows your leaders to connect with brand new students…. who don’t go to church. During this time, I remind our leaders: “Look for students who look like deer in head lights and don’t know where to go. Be welcoming, introduce yourself, help them find their friends and if they are not looking, get to know them.” Also, “Remember, some students tonight, may not know how to church.” Meaning, students are coming who don’t know what church culture and etiquette is. Nights like this, leaders get to be strictly relational and meet brand new students. They get to be cheer leaders to the students they know and are involved with the service. They get to have fun and support what the students have had planned for that night.
- Students pay WAY more attention to their peers than you. I hate that this is true but I watch every single time a student is up on stage giving a message… they pay attention. As good as a speaker as you are, as much as you are honing your craft, a student can get up there and read their entire message from their notes and students will not take their eyes off of them and they are fully engaged. I makes me jealous. When students see their peers up on stage from their school, they have their attention. It’s one of them. Every week, the Gospel of Jesus is presented. Each week, students come to know Jesus…. from their peers.
- You get to see how creative your students are. I am amazed every year we do this. They are so creative. From the themes, to the games, to the messages and message illustrations, service elements and events after…. they are capable of a ton. It has made me realize I can include our students in much more planning and execution of future events. For example, our student leadership team (now that this series is over) are planning our “New 7th Grader Welcome Party” for the new 7th grader students coming up from kids ministry. They are so creative and a series like this gets to showcase their talents and gifts.
- It’s so fun. It’s so much work, but it’s so fun. I love the time and planning I have been able to spend with the students organizing services. I love the time spent in prayer with them about reaching their campuses. I love the new students and stories that have come out of students seeing what church is about and who Jesus is for the first time. I think it’s one of the best things we do all year.
IF you want to get a full run down of how this can get started, DYM has a great resource you should own. Click HERE to access it.
If you want to see our student lead services and what they were like, you can click HERE.
I think all ministries should at least try. I know it may not be the best fit for your ministry or in this season, but from I have seen I recommend you give it a shot here in your next ministry calendar.