//, Leadership/A giveaway of my new book, Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders

A giveaway of my new book, Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders

When I first entered youth ministry, I wanted to cultivate student leaders but I had no idea what I was doing. So I did what I always do: I turned to books.

Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of resources on cultivating student leaders.

So I began experimenting.

This experimentation reached a desperate level nearly a decade ago, when I inherited a dysfunctional student leadership team and knew I needed to make some changes.

In the years since then, I’ve prioritized student leadership in my ministry, devoting a great deal of my time to figuring out how best to develop student leaders. Nothing I’ve done before or since has ever been as transformational for students as this.

That’s just one reason why I’m excited about my new book, Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders. I’m also excited about Unleashing for 5 other reasons.

  1. It’s both theological and practical. So many ministry books are either theological or practical, but not both. Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders is both. It offers a theological perspective for why it’s important to cultivate student leaders, but it’s also insanely practical. My writing is birthed from experience – both my wins and my failures (and let me assure you, when it comes to student leadership, I’ve had many failures!)

  2. It’s tested. Not only is Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders practical, but the ideas found in it are all tested. I’ve actually used them in my own ministry to develop our student leaders.

  3. It’s applicable to ministries of all sizes. So often, it feels like youth ministry books are geared towards those working in big churches – which is NOT where most youth workers work. Student leadership, however, is more than a program. It’s a means of discipleship that’s applicable regardless of whether you have 10 or 1000 students in your ministry.

  4. It’s applicable beyond the walls of your youth room. When you equip student leaders, you give them leadership skills that benefit the rest of your church, as well as their schools, homes, and communities, not just while they’re in your youth ministry but long after they leave it.

  5. It works. NOTHING transforms teens as much as student leadership does. Student leadership enables teens to grow in their faith, leadership skills, confidence, and understanding of their giftedness. Student leadership is, in many ways, the gift that keeps on giving. As one of my former student leaders said, “It works!”

Whether you’re a rookie or veteran youth worker, I’m convinced Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders will help you change student leadership from a mythical idea into a transformative reality. Get your copy here!


Today, I’m thrilled to be giving away a copy of Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders. To enter to win, comment below with one question you have about student leadership OR one struggle you have in this area of ministry. A winner will be chosen from those who comment on Thursday, May 3 so check back after that to see if you won! 

By |2017-04-27T06:08:17+00:00April 27th, 2017|Contests, Leadership|25 Comments

About the Author:

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, IL. Jen is the author of A Mission that Matters (Abingdon Press), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon Press), The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus and the corresponding student devotional, The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling with their toddler, Hope.


  1. Terry April 27, 2017 at 6:30 am - Reply

    How do you train student leaders and keep them motivated and committed? (Asking for a friend…or my daughter and son in law who are youth pastors)

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:18 am - Reply

      What a great question! And what a blessing to have your daughter and son-in-law be youth pastors!

  2. Kyle Fulks April 27, 2017 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Do you tend to think it’s best to have student leaders serve in areas they enjoy, or do you think it’s also beneficial to push them in areas that are outside of their comfort zone? Maybe a mixture of the two?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:20 am - Reply

      Kyle –

      A great question that I discuss in the book. The short answer: I think it’s best to have student leaders serve in areas in which they have some natural giftedness. However, student leadership is very much about helping students to discover their potential so we also have to call out those areas because students do not always know them.


  3. Hilary April 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    What’s the ideal number of students serving and how do you do transitional leadership well?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:21 am - Reply

      Hilary –

      This is discussed in the book as well. The short answer: The ideal number fluctuates based on how many students apply.


  4. Allison Williams April 27, 2017 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    I struggle with the balance between seeing potential to develop a new student leader vs. wanting to develop someone that really is not interested in becoming a student leader.

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:23 am - Reply

      Allison –

      Absolutely! You are not alone in this struggle.

      I would encourage you NOT to put students on your team who are not really interested in becoming a student leader. That’s why I advocate for a self-selection process that includes a written application and interview. Putting teens on your team who do not want to be there actually harms your entire team more than it benefits the one person in question.


  5. Cheryl Johnson April 27, 2017 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Just…where do you start?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:24 am - Reply

      Cheryl –

      You start slowly, with a few! You pour into and invest in them and watch to see what God does!


  6. Kody Hope April 28, 2017 at 4:59 am - Reply

    In what areas do you sacrifice time from in order to prioritize student leadership?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:25 am - Reply

      Kody –

      In every area! If we truly believe in the power of student leadership (which I do!) then I’m willing to sacrifice time from every area of ministry in order to pour into these teens and cultivate a team that flourishes.


    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:48 am - Reply

      Kody –

      Congrats! You won the copy of Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders. Let me know where to send it!


  7. skillfulshepherds April 28, 2017 at 8:37 am - Reply

    How do you disciple and motivate youths and youth leaders who themselves are so busy in and stressed out by school and struggle themselves with spiritual disciplines, balance of time and committing to meetings/trainings and church?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:27 am - Reply

      A great question, which I discuss at length in the book. The short answer:

      1) Be clear about your expectations from the get-go. I recommend doing this by establishing a team covenant.
      2) Give your student leaders a say in scheduling their meetings. When they schedule meetings themselves, it’s much easier for them to prioritize them than it is when you tell them when and where they need to be.


  8. Laura S April 28, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    How do you get kids to realize their full potential as leaders despite their age and then strive to attain their potential?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:29 am - Reply

      Laura –

      Students have SO much potential!

      Affirm it – whenever you see it. Then encourage them to put it into practice and to take risks, even if they fail. Help student leaders to process and learn from their failures.


  9. Jenn April 28, 2017 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    What’s the best way to celebrate student leadership that leaves the church walls and programs and is truly impacting the community?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:31 am - Reply

      Jenn –

      Realize that the skills you give students as they lead are transferable beyond the walls of the church. Explicitly help them to see that! Over the years, I’ve heard from student leader alums who routinely share how the skills they learned from our student leadership team impacted them as they interacted with friends in high school and college and led a variety of clubs and student organizations.


  10. Sarah Selph April 28, 2017 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    My student leaders are very strong; committed, and for the most part, quite mature in their faith. How can I make sure I remain strong, and worthy of leading them?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:33 am - Reply

      Sarah –

      What a great question!

      Prioritize your own faith and walk with God. You can’t take people where you haven’t gone yourself.

      Model humility. When you screw up, be honest about your mistakes. Ask forgiveness when needed. Take risks and be willing to fail. Learn from your mistakes.

      Admit you’re not perfect and that you’re learning to be a better leader as well!


  11. MattsLid May 1, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    What i the best way to start and sustain a student leadership team?

    • Jen Bradbury June 7, 2017 at 5:34 am - Reply

      SLOWLY! With humility and a few teens who understand the vision of your team.


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