Over the past 6+ years of student ministry, I have learned many lessons. Here are a few below: Invest in Parents - Students grow and become like their parents more often than not. Find parents that love students and plug them into leadership and continually encourage them. Parents are the main spiritual influencers in their children(s) lives, whether they want to be or not! Pray with parents for their student(s) and you will not only gain a friend but a ministry ally!
Give away the Ministry - A student pastor should consistently look for ways to plug people into ministry. Learning to delegate responsibilities to adults and students builds a team mentality and creates excitement. I had to take a "humble" pill in order to get to this point in my ministry. It is not all about me! Equipping people to become better in their lives must be the priority. Always keep a "stop doing" list and find people with the shared passion and watch them thrive!
Pour into students who want to grow - I cannot make students want to grow! At the beginning stages of ministry I focused upon the "cool" kids that could care less about God while neglecting students who were teachable. At the same time, students who are far from God are a priority as well but the majority should be discipling students who can go out and disciple students. It is the principle of addition or multiplication. Multiplying is much better and biblical! (Matthew 28:19-20).
Teach the basics consistently - Students must learn to develop their own walk with God. Teach them to pray, read their Bible, teach God's Word and how to share the gospel! Basic growth in Christ will far outlast their high school years and will rocket them into mature adults that love Jesus! Students must learning to follow Christ is not an event ("camp high anyone") but a daily journey.
Relationships beats "Hype" - Student ministry should be creative, exciting and passionate! The "hype" should never be the main measure of success. Relationships are what keep students engaged and growing when they are based upon the love of Christ. Students will remember a heartfelt conversation years down the road over a messy game played at an event.
Challenge the Status-Quo - Lead students to go on mission with their life! Teach them how to share their faith through example and training. Go on foreign and local missions in order to help them see the world that needs Jesus. Equip students to preach, lead worship and be creative in ways to share the gospel. Students are currently the church and not just the future! Students must learn that they do not get a "free pass" from obeying and following Christ just because culture expects mediocrity out of their adolescence. Life is short, don't waste it!
Be Teachable - You can always learn something from someone at any time! Seminary is a road I have taken in order to be more equipped but it does not end there. Leaders must be lifelong learners. Read, write, study, listen to advice, ask for input and simply be humble enough to never get to a point where you have "arrived."
Just a few thoughts that are on my mind. What have you learned in your journey in leading students and families?