Thursday, September 24, 2020

Youth Empowered - Leadership Empower Team

This week’s post is a continuation of our series that is exploring the digital side of student-led youth ministry, where we are releasing a new chapter of Youth Empowered for free, right here on Focusing on Jesus! Tune in each week to read a new portion of the chapter as we explore Empower Teams through a digital lens.

Leadership Empower Team
As an expert on the topic of leadership, one of John Maxwell’s more recognizable quotes is on the matter of influence, where he says that “the true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” Those who are familiar with some of his writings will know another one of his common principles, where he states that someone gaining position within an organization does not automatically mean that the person will gain influence along with it (in fact, he explains that “Position” is only the first of five levels of leadership). If we were to view these leadership principles through the lens of online youth ministry, it might cause us to pause for a moment and ask the question, “As a youth pastor, am I being the best leader I can be for my youth ministry?” Perhaps another way of addressing this question may be to discuss how we can gain influence within an online-oriented student-led youth ministry. To help us accomplish this, let’s explore the digital perspective of a Leadership Empower Team.

First, it can help to acknowledge who the real leader is within the world that we are operating in. As a youth pastor, you may have influence within the 4 walls of your church, however it is possible that you may have next to no influence over the youth within the digital realm. Students are spending an increasing amount of time online (especially in a post-pandemic culture). If your youth ministry does not have a digital presence, then a large portion of your students’ lives may be out of your reach. If we were to apply Maxwell’s principles on influence here, then it is true that the further away something is from our ministry, the less influence we hold over it. Once we acknowledge that our students are identifiable as leaders in this realm, it can then allow us to more effectively bridge the digital gap that may exist between us and our students. Indeed, it is when we see our students as partners in our ministry—instead of merely recipients of our ministry—that we create a proper environment for a Leadership Empower Team to thrive.

Second, to successfully launch a digitally-powered Leadership Empower Team, we are to identify the students who are “persons of peace.” Reflecting the type of personality described in Luke 10:6, these trustworthy individuals consistently show commitment, character, competency, and care toward their peers. Through their natural ability to uplift those that they interact with online, students who apply the radical love of Christ to their everyday lives will likely develop a wide network of friends and followers as they post genuine content that engages the hearts of other students within their community. These are the students who not only have the ability to be a positive influence within their world, but they also are willing to step up and fill such a role if given the opportunity to do so.

Third, we are called to invite these key influencers to be a part of the Leadership Empower Team. As the team meets on a semiregular basis, these students have an innate ability to approach youth ministry with fresh eyes, providing guidance to the leadership and making suggestions that can help drive the direction of the youth ministry for the next 3-6 months. Topics to discuss perhaps can include ideas for future sermon series that are relevant to a post-pandemic teen lifestyle, strategies that can mobilize students who are already in the youth ministry’s social media networks, or even methods on how to reach nonbelievers within each of their respective schools. Not only do they represent the collective voice of the student population within the youth ministry, but the youth pastor also shares the task of vision-casting with this team, allowing them to provide updates directly to the student body on where the youth ministry is heading and also where the Lord might be taking them in the near future.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that students have spiritual gifts too, and certain gifts like apostleship, leadership, administration, discernment, and prophecy may not feel like they have a true home in many of the other Empower Teams that are available for the students to choose from. A Leadership Empower Team that embraces the online needs of today’s youth will not only grant opportunities for students like these to utilize their spiritual gifts, but it can also provide invaluable insight to the church staff by keeping it directly connected with its students on an ongoing basis.

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