I spent this past Friday night in a room with nearly a hundred teenagers, from many backgrounds and denominations, worshipping King Jesus together. That statement alone is enough to celebrate with tremendous joy; what made this past Friday special is that I was not only worshipping alongside of teenagers, but I was led into the presence of God by teenagers.
Yet, again I was reminded of the tremendous potential teenagers have to be leaders today. Yes, they will disappoint us at times and growing pains are a reality we must accept. However, I will continue to release more and more ministry responsibilities to the students I lead. I do this because I fundamentally believe in Student-Led Student Ministry.
Student-Led Student Ministry is the most sustainable model of ministry to teenagers. This philosophy boils down to a simple truth: teenage followers of Christ are not the “church of tomorrow”; they are the “church of today”. If we are not to call our older brothers and sisters in Christ the “church of the past” we should not call our teenage brothers and sisters the “church of tomorrow”. The checklist is simple. Do you follow Jesus? If so, you are the church of today.
In a Student-Led Model of Student Ministry adults are not removed from the picture. Instead, adults take on an amplified role in leadership. That is, instead of doing all the work behind closed doors and presenting it to the students, adults take students under their wing to lead by example. Adults, in every sense of the word, are guiding as students lead.
How are we equipping students in this Student-Led, Adult-Guided Ministry Model here at Field Street?
First, we start with Wednesday night programming. In the preparation stage each week, there are many adults pouring into students to grow them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Adults lead students in preparation for each Wednesday, assigning them responsibilities, following up throughout the week and debriefing afterwards. After nearly two full years of ministry the only responsibility that is currently 100% adult led is the teaching portion of the night; our vision is to release some of these responsibilities to students in the near future.
Secondly, we have initiated our first full-blown Youth Council after a semester long trial period. From this point forward, the vision of Field Street Student Ministry will be set by the Minister of Students (yours truly), but the ship will be steered and powered by students. That is, I give students a map of our destination and let them play a major role in deciding the roads we take to get to there.
This philosophy was not birthed and implemented overnight; it has been a long and steady process that began to take shape before I was even on the Field Street radar. However, I will continue to pursue the Lord together with adults and students in a model of ministry that releases students to do the work of the ministry.