Last Sunday I had the need to take care of something very important before our program got started.

Namely, I had to go to the bathroom.

It’s no big deal, I thought. I was just going to excuse myself for a moment and then come back and ask my student tech team to get the countdown ready. Then I would make sure that the girl who was doing announcements for me was ready to go and check to make sure my game person had everything they needed.

After I came back for my very quick trip to the restroom, including a responsible twenty second hand wash, I discovered an unexpected scene.

The countdown video had already played and the student who was supposed to be doing announcements was doing just that.

In fact, she made a big deal out of me coming back into the room and said “And don’t worry everybody, Ronald is still here!”

I got called out for being late to my own ministry! From the STAGE!

This is what’s going to happen if you put students in charge.

A while ago I started giving away on-stage responsibility to students. We already have a middle school band and a middle school tech team in the booth, but I was reluctant to give away the job of announcements and game leader. Aside from teaching, those are some of my favorite times up on the stage.

But I knew it was important to hand that over to students, so I begin the process of training them to take it over.

Lo and behold, when you give students responsibilities and tell them they’re in charge, they’re going to start acting like they’re in charge.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:

Set wide river banks

It’s great to have rules and roles when you hand over things to students. When you want them to perform a certain task, it’s definitely better to say wide river banks so that they can operate with some creative license and freedom.

I give them a one-page job description for their role. Here’s a few of them:

Middle School Game Leader

Middle School Welcome Time

It’s going to feel uncomfortable, but let students try to figure things out. Give them responsibility and let them know what you expect. That said…

Offer lots of advice

Make sure you offer feedback! Tell a student what they are doing well and offer them advice on how they can improve. If you’ve got a student doing announcements who is reading them verbatim, offer them a chance to practice giving the announcements off the cuff with you afterward.

If you have a student playing games, give them a chance to figure out how they can make it more exciting for the students who are playing. And whenever you see some killer advice on how to play games with your students, pass it on to your team! Like these two I shared with my students:

3 Ways to Quickly Pivot a Youth Ministry Game That is Bombing on Stage

5 Tips For Hosting Next-Level Camp Games

Let them be students

They are going to be silly. And Mesa. And might even swear on stage. I hope that last time doesn’t happen, but it might. Let your students be students.

When you give away responsibility, they’re going to run with it. Let them fail forward and be ridiculous in the process.

I have found there’s a whole lot of joy in letting students be themselves as they work on the roles they have been assigned.

Give more away

Once you’ve given away some responsibility, keep doing it! I didn’t wanna give away stage time, but I challenge myself to intentionally let students do a part of the job that I love.

There is more that I can give to them. And I hope to soon!

It helps students be the church and helps us equip the saints. It’s definitely something we should do more often.

Be careful though. If you put students in charge, there’s a good chance you’ll get called out for being late from the stage.