9.26.2006

Chewing on Junior High Student Leadership

I'll be at the Youth Specialties 'National Youth Workers Convention' four times this Fall leading a few middle school ministry workshops. One that I'm super excited about, but also beginning to stress over, is a brand new workshop on developing student leaders in middle school ministry. We have a pretty good student leadership program in our ministry, but it's certainly not as good as it could be nor do I feel like an authority on the topic. Without question, our student leadership program is a vital part of our ministry and the students who are involved really like it.
One of our struggles with it has always been the question of are we really developing student leaders (and, how do you even measure that...) or is the program just another place for our core kids to hang out together? I suppose it's really a little bit of both.

I guess the best way to approach the workshop will be to discuss what an 'ideal' middle school student leadership program may look like and then share a little bit of the 'real'....what it looks like for us and other churches.

I suppose I need to take a little pressure off myself. One thing I've learned through the years is that middle school workers appreciate any chance to get together to talk, dream and share our journey.

10 comments:

Joel Newton said...

I definitely resonate with that. We canceled our junior high student leadership team last year because it had just became the group for cool kids. At the end of last year we really experienced a lack of momentum because we had not trained up leaders within the group. We started it again this year and were purposeful with how we chose the students. Now our big debate is whether it is a leadership skills training group or spiritual formation. Or is it both? It seems like it should be both. Student leadership in JHigh isn't easy but it is so rewarding. I wouldn't be in JHigh ministry today if it wasn't for my junior high youth pastor challenging me to be a part of the student leadership team.

paul said...

i like what you said at the end. if i attend your seminar, and in addition to sharing some thoughts and ideas and insights from your own experience, you also offered us a place to talk, dream, and share our journies, it would be well worth the time. and i would probably walk away not just with a better understanding of student leadership in MS ministry, but also more relationships and an understanding of how God is working in other ministries around the country.

Nick said...

I guess just make sure you distinguish well between the ideal and the real. dont' want us to walk away thinking our MS'ers must have come from Pluto or some other former planet. We're just starting a leadership development program (basing it off of something called Mosaic that one of the YS presenters from last year has done at his own church - don't remember the name - our HS / Youth Pastor is heading it up). Our MS'ers are there with the HS'ers, and we're just getting started so we'll see how it goes.

I still don't have a good sense of how to really do have junior high "leadership", unless it means changing the definition some.

Bethany said...

Looking forward to it. Don't stress, Kurt. I always hear God when you speak. I know it's going to be great!

idrum4him@email.com said...

Great questions and thoughts! One question I would have is how you would define "student leadership". Is it those students leading/coordinating specific activities? Is it the students that lead by example - serving in the nursery, having a b-day party that collects food for the local homeless shelter? Is it the students that are more "visible" during their participation in worship? Other??

Now that I think about it (and give me a little grace here as I am thinking as I'm typing!) maybe a student leader is one who allows themselves to be lead by the Holy Spirit into deeper community with God and others - finding "their place" and with that....leading others into greater depth of relationship with God and others naturally.

How does one "program" that is my next question....

Regardless of the above...you will do a fabulous job because of the passion and heart you have for Christ and students! Thanks for being available in so many ways - in your church, on the web, through conferences, etc. I appreciate it more than you know!

Eric Venable said...

Bottom line.... what is transformative for a student? it can't be a program it has to be process. how do we students to question our american culture... in other words... most of the JR high programs do not need "ideas" they need a new way to think about leadership... by the way.. do we want to shape students in "leadership"? ... dude.. how about anti-leadership. if you know what i mean? the kingdom works counter to most traditional leadership principles. i'll shut up now


I will come and do this with you .. but you have to let me crash at your room.

kurt johnston said...

Eric, why'd you have to go and throw a wrench in the whole thing!

dave mergens said...

I like to think of student leadership the same way that kurt has talked about the "typical junior high student" - there is no such thing! Because I believe, alot like jeremiah 22:16, that knowing God is intimately tied into His heart for serving others in love - i open student leadership up to any 7th and 8th graders who are currently serving others. It has become a point of discussion for all of my non-typical student leaders and a rallying point for them in their transformation process. it will be good to sharpen each other in kurt's NYWC seminar! Cant' wait to go "deep" in jr. high minisrty (can i say that?)

david said...

hey kurt. i check your blog all the time, but i've never commented. i am a MS pastor in pensacola, fl and was at the beginning of that adventure last year in Nashville YS when i sat in on your "freaks, geeks, and squirrels" seminar. i appreciate you sharing all of your experience and insight so freely and look forward to sitting in on some more good stuff this year in cincinnatti.

Kurt Johnston said...

David...be sure to track me down. The 'Freaks and Geeks' workshop will be the same, but the student leadership one will be all new.