We would probably all agree that service is an important part of student leadership development, but is having students in leadership roles enough? Today on The Pod, we hear from a collection of long-time student ministry experts who share their thoughts on how to develop students who not only lead but have influence as well.
Welcome to Episode 70 of The Think Orange Podcast.
Interview with Tom “Shef” Shefchunas on engaging students in weekly service (9:45)
Once students get to high school, we need to focus on weekly service (9:45)
Shef uses Jurassic Park to illustrate what it looks like to provide students the chance to serve—“The T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed. T-Rex wants to hunt.” (12:15)
Five elements of a successful service role for students (13:45)
• It has to be important
• It has to be dependent on them
• It has to be celebrated
• It has to require accountability
• It has to be an important part of the culture
Interview with Stuart Hall and Joseph Sojourner (17:20)
Creating outlets for students to lead (18:05)
The confusion between a position of leadership and one of influence (18:56)
Ways the church can better develop student leaders (20:47)
Filling volunteer vacancies is not leadership development in and of itself (26:11)
Identifying students with influence and leadership potential (28:16)
Developing students of influence (32:22)
Shaping a culture where adult volunteers pour into student co-leaders (39:04)
INFLUNSR’s mission is to develop leaders worth following (43:38)
People, Places & Helpful Resources
Tom Shefchunas (Shef) is the Executive Director of Student Strategy at Orange. He leads the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculums. He is formerly North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. Prior to going into ministry, Shef spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. His passion is working with, recruiting, and developing volunteers and leaders who will shape the next generation. Through nearly two decades of leadership in ministry, he’s had numerous opportunities to coach and be coached by some amazing individuals, and he enjoys passing that experience to others seeking a coach to accelerate their growth.
Stuart provides vision and leadership for two highly effective non-profit organizations (XP3: A Division of the Rethink Group & DASH INC), deeply desires to develop spiritually influential students that engage culture, partners with great organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to develop students as leaders, travels and speaks to thousands of students and leaders each year, has coauthored three books (The Seven Checkpoints: Seven Principles Every Teenager Needs to Know, MAX Q: Developing Students of Influence and Wired: For a Life of Worship, Leaders Edition), is working on authoring one or two more, laughs incessantly, coaches his daughters’ basketball teams, relishes watching his son play football and basketball and his daughters play basketball and soccer and loves his beautiful wife Kellee with every fiber of his being.
Atlanta’s Sojourner aka Sojo has emerged as one of the most promising voices in hip-hop. His passionate message of being a generation of people “fighting for others instead of fighting against others” won the hearts of fans young and old.
In addition to music, Sojo continues to speak to students and young adults, serves as a creative director to Bigstuf Camps, is the emcee at Catalyst Conferences, and also continues to communicate throughout the six churches of North Point Ministries. Joseph has a passion for creatively engaging the next generation of leaders in the church and culture.
Quotes from This Episode
Ideas to Influence the Next Generation
When it comes to developing student leaders, the possibilities are as endless and unique as the students you serve. To get you started, here are a few things to keep in mind as you influence the influencers in your student ministry:
Check your own needs at the door.
Once you catch the vision for getting students to serve on a weekly basis, it can be tempting to dream up all the ways their volunteering can make your life easier. After all, isn’t that the point of even having volunteers? No. You want the students in your ministry to serve weekly so they can practice their faith and actively be part of the body of Christ. Remember, wedging a student into the wrong type of role could result in them not only thinking the job itself was bad, but that serving is as well. Your goal is to find students service roles that is simultaneously stretching and life-giving.
Think outside the box.
One of the most common ways to plug students into serving is to invite them to be small group leaders for younger kids. While some students will thrive in this environment, it’s not for everyone. As you develop student leaders, keep in mind that not all students are wired for an up-front or people-centric role—but that doesn’t make them less than or incapable. It might just mean they’d excel elsewhere like getting behind the scenes with your church’s maintenance team or the crew that builds the stage designs for your large group spaces.
Don’t be afraid to let them fail.
Is there a role within your church you’re afraid to hand a student because you worry they might screw it up? Yes, there’s always wisdom in knowing what responsibilities are beyond what any 15-year-old should carry. But an ungrounded fear of failure is no reason to turn a student away from an opportunity that might be the right fit. Sure, they might not get things right the first time . . . or even the second or third. But mistakes are an important part of learning, growing, and stretching our faith. These moments of failure can be a great opportunity for you to come alongside a student and provide them with coaching, a pat on the back, or the option to try something new.
Conversation Starters For Your Church
Would we describe the students in our ministry as leaders or influencers? Talk about it.
What percentage of our high school students serve on a weekly basis? (If you have data to back this up, take the time to access it! If not, go ahead and guesstimate.)
What’s an action we can take to engage more students in regular service?
Do we have a pipeline for students who are interested in serving? What is it?
When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.
Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.
Join Us Next Week
Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.
We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.