Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Student Advisory Team - Shut Up And Listen

Imagine a student ministry where the students are more excited about what's going on than you.

They, the students, are pushing others to attend the weekend retreat because they're so excited about what God might do.  Students are approaching you about potential opportunities for them to serve the hurting.  Students are actually dreaming of ways to build relationships with their friends for the purpose of sharing Jesus.

God seems to do a unique work in the heart of students when students feel a sense of authentic ownership.  One way to tap into students wisdom is by creating a student advisory team.  Last week we talked about the why and how to create a sat, Student Advisory Team - Ownership and Influence, this week we're discussing ideas of how you might lead them.

Every gathering with your sat should include prayer and some kind of interactive discussion on humility or servant leadership.  Part of the beauty of having these student leaders together is you get to speak to their hearts about true servant leadership.  As you're pouring into them and helping them learn what it means to serve like Jesus, you're also asking them for advice and input.

Here are 4 areas to get you started.

1.  General Ministry Assessment

It's always fun and helpful to take students through some kind of "SW0T" analysis.  Although it's sometimes difficult for them to think that globally this is a good exercise for them at the beginning or end of a school year.

2.  Specific Ministry Input

Last Sunday I sat in on our high school ministry's sat meeting.  Our high school pastor asked how they felt about the current teaching series we're leading.  The input was golden.  They said the teaching was great but wasn't so good for their unchurched friends.  That was so important for us to hear seeing that our Wednesday night programming is designed for our students AND their friends.

3.  Planning Student Led Events

I love to get a group of students in a room and tell them they're responsible for the heart behind an event.  Asking them questions about the felt needs of their friends and how we might speak to those needs at a particular retreat or student led night of worship always yields great insight.  Last fall our sat did an incredible job thinking through the felt needs of their friends and how we might apply the gospel.  Then they developed a prayer strategy for our entire highs school ministry leading up to the event.  Yes, they gave great input but also felt great ownership.

4.  Asking About Morale

As youth pastors we typically have a sense of general morale.  How are students doing?  Do they feel like the student ministry has unity?  There have been times I'm so far off.  If your student advisory team is diverse enough you can get a true feel of unity and how students are generally doing within your ministry context.  By the way, students hear things we will never hear.

When asking for input it's so important to listen.  I mean REALLY listen.  This is a challenge for those of us who lead by speaking.  It's important that students not only feel heard but are truly heard.

There are so many other topics to discuss with students within the student advisory context.  What have you done that's been helpful or what would you add to the list.

I'm all ears.


  1. I like the conversation that you have started in this series regarding SAT. One question that keeps coming up for me. How to quantify results. Over the years I have been a part of so much "ministry" sometimes with great results and other times not so much. But one thing I have settled on is the fact that we (I) wasn't all that purposeful on determining exactly what the results were. Therefore we patted ourselves on the back upon the development of a new idea but didn't always hold ourselves accountable for "results" - whatever those might be.

    I wonder if there should be some purposeful conversation about what we should expect and develop a reasonable timeframe around those expectations. Student buy in on the idea and results. That would be cool!

    I hope and pray that each student takes seriously the two fold call to discipleship and discipling others.

    Peace in Christ

  2. I agree, Eric. Sometimes with shoot blindly then go draw a target around the area we hit. My tension has always been that measuring results usually leads us to nickels and noses. (numbers) Nothing wrong with measuring our horizontal growth, but sometimes that doesn't show us the total picture.

    Another way may be to ask students through a survey. Maybe at the beginning of the school year you ask students a survey question about their perceived "buy in" or ownership in the ministry. Ask again at the end of the year and see if there is growth.

    Creating and pursuing "smart" goals is important but I believe musth be done with tension knowing ministry progress sometimes looks surprising.