Sometimes in ministry there are things that happen spontaneously, and then there are times when we are intentional about what we do.

When I was in my first youth ministry job I began gathering students in my living room once a week. We would spend the time planning the next night’s service. From games to skits to videos, we did it all. We also spent time calling other students and inviting them to come to youth group. This was before cell phones, so we had to pass around the cordless phone one at a time and make calls. Looking back on it, this was probably the development of an unintentional student leadership team.

Years later, and in a new context, I received some teaching and challenge to purposefully begin developing students into leaders. In 1999 I pulled about 15 students together and began to invest in their lives. In turn, I have learned by trial and error over the years a strategy for developing and leading a leadership team.

Then, in 2008, we attended our first Student Leadership Conference hosted by Doug Fields. It was the perfect compliment to what we were doing to develop students.

Each year the conference speaks into the lives of each of our students in a way that encourages them to lead. They are reminded they are not only the church of tomorrow, but they are an active participant in building God’s kingdom now.

This is one reason why we continue to come back. Another reason we attend is that we have a chance to get away somewhere fun and reflect on where our ministry is, and where God may be leading us for the next school year. Finally, we continue to attend SLC because it creates practical experiences for students to lead. From water walks to IJM interactive experiences, it is a highlight of our summer. I encourage you to be intentional and come to SLC this summer.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed… neither will your students.

Nick Steinloski is the Student Ministries Pastor at Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Washington.