///Buh-Bye Student Leadership

Buh-Bye Student Leadership

Student leadership is done in our ministry as we know it.

Well, kind of.

Do I still have a team of students whom I meet with regularly and we talk about leadership and servanthood? Yes. But it’s not student leadership any more. I am all about pouring into a group of students and letting them take roles beyond just attending group.

When I took over student leadership last year I didn’t change much. It was a select group that met every other week and over time I watched it become something everyone who wants to do a student leadership team dreads… a click. Students thought of themselves as better, they took pride in the name tags they were given and they did not do much to actually serve their peers.

Well that changed this year.

We switched up a few things to make this group of students really feel and see the impact they could have on their peers. This was not an elite group of students, the insiders, it is a group of students who are willing to give up a little part of their youth group experience in order to serve their peers.

We meet on the 1st & 3rd Monday of every month and we go will be going through a variety of lessons, team building, devos, challenges and of course end the year with a YOU OWN THE NIGHT series where these students will take lead, but I think their can be some healthier ways to go about it this year.

Here are some things we did to do this:

Changed the name

  • It’s now Student Impact. Why? I want them to impact their peers by serving them during the service. The name assumes leadership. Jesus led by serving his disciples and students will lead the same.

Got rid of name tags

  • In the past, student leaders wore badges that said “Student Leader”. What I do know is this badge was something they coveted and showed off. Very non-servant like. Gone.

Opened up the group to all high schoolers

  • Student Impact are the core kids. The ones who love this ministry and want to make it better. In the past it was kept to 15. This year, I wanted to open it up to any student who wanted to make a difference on Wednesday nights. Why wouldn’t I want to pour into students who were all in with our ministry for two days a month for a few hours? This also takes away the exclusivity and “elite-ness” from it. They do still need to fill out an application and there is still an attendance tracker clause.

Set designated teams and jobs 

  • I split the group into 3 random teams. All teams were made to have them be with people they do not know. On Wednesday nights there are 3 main on-going jobs for them to serve.
    • Welcome Team & Stairs – This team will be responsible to make sure every student who walks up those stairs is greeted. We want this to be a welcoming place and it begins with students welcoming students. We want high fives, get to know names, ask them if they know where they are doing. If you don’t recognize them, are they new? Show them around.
    • Trash and Pen Duty – This team will wait until 9pm every Wednesday to clean up. This gives them some time to still hang out with friends before diving into serving. This team is responsible for picking up the trash in the worship center and also collecting every non-CCV pen and putting it in the pen bin. This team will also do a trash sweep outside on the patio and make sure it looks good.
    • Bulletins – This team will be responsible for passing out the pens and bulletins during the high school message time. As soon as the worship leader dismisses into the rooms, this team will meet in the back corner of the room, grab pens and bulletins and pass them out as soon as a majority of the room is sat.

Know Your Row

  • Students have come up to me and ask me how not to be a click. After many attempts they could not figure it out, this will help them. Impact team will not be sitting together during the services but they can partner up with someone on their team. We have 3 sections of seating on Wednesday nights so each team will take a section, each pair will take a different row and the challenge is to know everyone in your row. Either during service, worship, after service, introduce yourself to the people in your row and get to know some stories of their peers. It has been a great way for students to step out of their comfort zones and be welcoming to everyone they come in contact with.

Like I said, how can you not want to pour into students who love your ministry and want to make a difference. I tell them all of time, “You are never more like Jesus than when you serve.” I think this will help point them in that direction. God can do incredible things when we step out-of-the-way of ourselves and serve others and I know God will do this that through these students on this team.



By |2017-10-31T07:29:22+00:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|6 Comments

About the Author:

Justin Knowles has been a pastor for the last 10 years and is the Student Ministries Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He hosts Youth Ministry Hacks Podcast, loves to write about his ministry journey and teach at all sorts of camps or retreats. He and his wife Kristin have a son named Graham and a cat named CATalie Portman. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @justinknowles3


  1. Brent Aiken October 31, 2017 at 7:06 am - Reply

    Good word Justin! Implemented a few of these things at the beginning of the year when starting the student leadership program at my new church. Removing clicks is a HUGE part of relational ministry.

  2. Ryan Klement October 31, 2017 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Thanks for your post Justin. I have actually made some of these adjustments over the past year and it has really been a benefit to our group. While we still have the name “Student Leadership” each of our leaders has a job description and leadership commitment that they sign. Here are a few additional rhythms we have found helpful.

    1. 3 Semester Structure – Most sports and commitments land in one of the semesters, so while I ask for a year long commitment I allow the students to miss one semester for football, band etc. I have Fall Leadership, Spring Leadership and Summer Leadership. During Fall leadership the students prepare and plan our Student Lead nights. This happens the last Wednesday of every other month during our regular youth group gatherings. Basically I help them prepare to lead the entire night. They prepare and lead games, worship, message, greeting, small groups and emcee the night. The students will do this 6 times in the year. During Spring Leadership each student is required to come up with a missions goal or special project they want to accomplish. I let them come up with the goal and we work on achieving it together. Last year we had students take on parts of ministry in our church and recruit their fellow students to come serve with them. It was a great experience. Finally, summer leadership is all about peer mentoring. All of my leaders are required to invite 1 or 2 younger students who might be a good fit for the leadership team and meet up with them weekly for mentorship. We are still fine tuning this but it has been going great so far:)

    2. Yearly Adult and Student Leadership Retreat – We Retreat every January with our adults and students together as one leadership team. This has been very helpful for vision, training and unity.

    3. Leadership Community – Every other last Wednesday of the month (the ones in between student lead) we cancel our youth group gathering and have only adult and student leaders present. We play a game, watch some DYM University, have discussions, share about future events, pray and worship. This helps to bring some more training and unity to our team.


  3. Sam Pettersen October 31, 2017 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Pure gold! Love this dude!

  4. Chris Ravesloot November 15, 2017 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Justin, Great article. I’m actually new this year to my role as High School Youth Director and inherited a Student Leader team. I love the Student Impact rebranding and also that you have students fill out an application to serve. Is it possible to get a copy of that application? I would like to see what you guys are asking from students on that application and of course I would season to taste and not just copy it if you are able to share it with me. Thanks again for this great article.

  5. […] over a month ago I wrote a post in which quickly became the top post here on DYM called “Buh-Bye Student Leadership“. I have gotten more questions about student leadership than ever before, so I think we hit […]

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