"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Training Student Leaders

Training Student Leadership: Professional Report (Part 1)

Steve Miller

Training Student Leadership
Professional Student Ministry Report #1
For Those Who Are Serious About Youth Ministry
(Global Edition)


Chapter One……… Catch the Vision
Chapter Two …….. Believe in Student Leadership
Chapter Three …… Realize That Student Leadership is Flourishing
Chapter Four …….. Get Started
Chapter Five ……… Create an Environment for Growth
Chapter Six ……….. Train for Ministry
Chapter Seven ……..Transition Students into Leadership

Recommended Resources


HELP! If after reading this report you find it valuable, why not forward it to your friends in ministry and/or e-mail a brief endorsement to smillero@mindspring.com that we can use your comments to encourage others to jump on board? Also look for an invitation to sign up for the "Global Youth Ministry Exchange," which will allow you to e-mail questions and responses to one another.

DON'T MISS A REPORT! If this was sent to you by a friend and you want to receive it four times per year, sign up by e-mailing us at smillero@mindspring.com. It's absolutely free to youth workers outside the USA and is only $10.00 per year for those inside the USA.


  • Your students feel no ownership for the group, depending on adults to do all the ministry.
  • Your students are mostly shallow spectators who need to move into leadership.
  • When students get older, they leave the church and never return.
  • Of your students who actively use their gifts, some serve half-heartedly and others are largely ineffective. 
  • Many students have no motivation or direction to minister. 
  • You have no strategy to move students from attendees to leadership. 

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THIS REPORT. Have you ever returned home from an exceptional youth ministry conference only to put the notebook on the shelf and realize a month later that your life and ministry were not affected at all? Over the next hour or so you will be exposed to many ideas that successful youth workers are implementing worldwide. How can you avoid walking away with a mere jumble of ideas, an overwhelming sense of failure or with a vague commitment to do better? Here's a plan to help you take away a couple of specific ideas and a plan for implementation:

  • Pray for God to give you specific ideas to help you build student leaders in your context.
  • Highlight new or significant ideas that stand out to you. Your word processor probably has a highlighting tool if you're reading at your computer.
  • Record your ideas to implement in the "Action Points" section. Do a quick scroll to the end of the article and you'll find a section where you can write them down as you read.
  • Consider reading this in several sittings, since it contains a lot of content on one aspect of ministry. Take a few points and reflect on them during a week of ministry. Howard Hendricks has suggested that many people need to spend less time reading and more time reflecting on what they read.
  • After reading the article, put your "Action Points" in order of priority. Concentrate on implementing your #1 and #2 priorities.

Chapter One
Catch the Vision

Super-Charged Kids

  • Brazilian Soccer legend Pele was so was so talented by age 11 that Waldemar de Brito, one of the country's premier players took notice. De Brito announced 4 years later that 15-year-old Pele would become "the greatest soccer player in the world." (1)
  • At the age of 13, golf sensation Tiger Woods played his first national junior tournament. Paired with professional golfer John Daley, the middle schooler out-played the pro by four strokes after the first nine holes. (2)
  • Arnold Spielberg got so annoyed at his elementary school child for criticizing his home movies that he handed him the camera and said, "If you know so much, why don't you try?" Young Steven accepted the challenge and filmed the family vacations from then on. Shortly after the 5th grade he made his first film for a Boy Scout merit badge. By middle school he was producing movies and playing them for the neighborhood kids at night on a white sheet thrown across a clothesline in his back yard. Steven Spielberg grew up to make some of the most popular and critically acclaimed movies of all time. (3)
  • As a high school student Bill Gates programmed a database to allow his school to register students for classes, also allowing him to get classes with his favorite girls! (4)
  • Hymn-writer Isaac Watts studied Hebrew at age thirteen, French at ten, Greek at nine, and Latin at four! (5)

I've got to wonder how such gifted students react if they visit a youth ministry where adults assume all leadership roles, student input is neither solicited nor valued, and students are relegated to the role of passive listeners. "But my students aren't child prodigies," you object. "I feel successful when I merely keep them from destroying the youth room."

When "Average" Students Take Charge

So let's move past the child prodigies to consider our "average" students. Some football players, of their own initiative, hit the gym at 6:00 AM during summer vacation to work out with a coach. It's not required. They just want to be in top shape for the Fall season and have favor with the coaches. (6) Many practice musical instruments hours each day. Student leaders put together the year book, lead clubs, star in school plays, produce intricate science projects. Plain, average, vanilla students care for their siblings, work responsible jobs, build Web sites and cook meals when their parents are too busy. What do those "normal" students think when they come to youth group and we ask them to merely "Sit still and listen?" How can we unleash the incredible leadership potential of youth within the church?

Sharpening our Focus

To answer this question, I first set forth the following working definition of "student leadership:" Students (whatever age group your culture defines as part of the "youth group") either getting involved in significant ministry or becoming respected influencers in their youth group or their world. This broadens our study to include those who may not have the gift of leadership, but are zealously serving others with whatever gifts they have.

Second, I e-mailed youth workers from around the world to learn from their experiences in building student leadership in many cultures. Third, I drew from many interviews with volunteer and staff youth pastors. Fourth, I reflected on my study and 29 years experience in youth ministry, both nationally and internationally. Fifth, I engaged the Scriptures to help us discern the difference between a good idea that works in one culture and underlying principles or teachings that should apply in some way to every culture.

Click HERE for Chapter Two...

Click HERE to learn more about the quarterly "Professional Youth Ministry Report."