Developing Student Leaders

Mom and Teenager TalkingThis week I received a great question in the form of a tweet, one I’ve been asked repeatedly about mentoring young people.

Youth pastor Brandon asked me about developing today’s student leaders. He finished reading my book, Ministry By Teenagers, and was challenged by my emphasis to provide an adult mentor for each student leader. His specific question was about resources the mentors could use to disciple these kids:

Brandon Student Leadership QuestionDon’t worry—even if you don’t have an official “student leadership program,” many of us are adults who care for the spiritual growth of our teenagers. If that is you, then take a peek at my answer to Brandon with a list of helpful discipleship resources that any mentor can use:

Brandon…. thanks for the email and the tweet. I’m glad my book, Ministry By Teenagers has been a good resource. Here are a few of my personal favorite resources that mentors can read and discuss with the young people they are discipling:

Help Student LeaderHELP! I’M A STUDENT LEADER:
This fun little guide from my friend Doug Fields written specifically to student leaders provides plenty of application of how students can put their leadership abilities into practice. Doug has been training and equipping student leaders for years in his own ministry and at his amazing conferences. In this book he helps students learn how Jesus led others and provides plenty of application on how to practice serving and growing in tangible ways at church, in school… in life!

Guys-Guide-BLOGTHE GUY’S GUIDE TO GOD, GIRLS AND THE PHONE IN YOUR POCKET:
This is my candid book for today’s young men providing real-life advice about becoming a man of God. It not only includes tips about growing spiritually, but also day to day issues like anger management, temptations, how to treat others… and even how much cologne to use! Each of these tips (about 2 pages each) provides questions to ponder or discuss. A great discipleship tool for mentors to go through with young men.

Smart Girl's GuideTHE SMART GIRL’S GUIDE TO GOD, GUYS, AND THE GALAXY:
This book from author Susie Shellenberger and my friend, stand up comedian, Kristen Weber melds spiritual and practical advice with humor to help girls navigate the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence. Like my Guy’s Guide book, the book provides questions that are good to discuss with advice like “Save the drama!” (I currently have copies of this book in stock- email me if you’d like to buy some)

Dare 2 Share bookDARE 2 SHARE:
This book is one of my favorites from my friend Greg Stier. It’s truly a field guide to sharing your faith. Greg trains entire stadiums full of teenagers at his amazing Dare 2 Share conferences, and this book is the print version of his training. The book not only has faith sharing tips, but it features profiles on various belief systems and how to engage in conversations with each of them. (I like to give students each a copy of Greg’s book after I take them through my Real Conversations evangelism training)

Sex-Matters-BLOGSEX MATTERS:
This is my brand new book tackling the subject of sex and intimacy. In a world inundated with sexual imagery and content, today’s young believers have unanswered questions that they are often too scared to ask. This candid little book is just five chapters long, providing a clear explanation of God’s amazing gift of sex, and answering the tough questions that young people have today about sexual temptation, pornography, masturbation, overcoming a sexual past as well as some of the big questions today’s young people never ask like: how far can I go? Is oral sex wrong? is anal sex wrong? This book provides Biblical answers with discussion questions at the end of each chapter, perfect for a mentor or parent to dialogue with their kid about what they just read. (And this book is available for less than $5 a book when you buy it in 10-packs HERE)

Zombie-Guide-BLOGTHE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR TEENAGERS:
This unlikely source of wisdom is a great discipleship tool in the guise of a fictional book. In reality, this book is just the story of three teenagers living in a post-apocalypic world with no parents or adults making decisions for them, so they are forced to make decisions on their own. In each situation the one question these three teens keep asking is, “What is right?” This book provides discussion questions at the end of each chapter tackling real-life issues like depression, drinking, loving difficult people, the temptation to indulge in fleshly desires, coping with pain, etc. A great tool for mentors to read with kids and discuss.

Mere ChristianityMERE CHRISTIANITY:
For the more philosophical student, C.S. Lewis’ classic book Mere Christianity provides detailed investigation into the reasoning behind the Christian faith. This is the kind of book where mentors and students can read a chapter per week, then meet together and discuss. My dad is actually meeting weekly with my daughter right now (her senior year) and going through this book with her.

Every single one of these books can be a great tool for today’s mentors of young believers. The key components mentors need with all these books is CONSISTENCY and A LISTENING EAR. In other words, have your mentors carve out a weekly time (“Let’s meet Tuesdays after school at Five Guy’s Burgers”) to meet, and simply ask good questions about what they read this week. Some books like Help I’m a Student Leader or The Guy’s Guide… are only one or two pages per entry; so they might require reading 7 entries a week and then discussing a few of them at the end of the week. Others, like Sex Matters or Mere Christianity will be one chapter per week.

Mentors should begin their time with a “get to know ya” question like, “What was your high and your low this week?” (Here’s a book with over 1,000 of these kinds of questions) Then segue to discussing the content. Help mentors learn to do more listening then talking. That’s where the ready-made discussion questions in many of these books can be a big help, creating and atmosphere of dialogue, not monologue.

What about you? What discipleship resources and you found helpful with today’s young people?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
[Are you getting this daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it's real easy-go here.
This entry was posted in Books, Leadership, Youth Ministry Philosophy, Youth Ministry Planning. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Developing Student Leaders

  1. Warwick Prewer says:

    I find writing down the goals, strengths and things to work on for a young person useful. They get a copy and I keep a copy. We refer to every so often to see how they are doing and encourage them in their strengths.