Eric Miller loves using student interns and leaders as a key component in the structure of his youth ministry. Currently in his 12th year serving as pastor of youth at Grace Community Church in Frederick, Maryland, Eric is continually pouring into his leadership level students, equipping them in all aspects of youth ministry with a “hands on” approach. Here are three big ideas from Eric on using a youth leadership team and the benefits it can provide to your youth ministry!
Multiplication Rather Than Addition
When I train and equip my student leaders to do what I do (disciple, teach, share the gospel, etc.) then I’m multiplying myself and the ministry rather than just me doing everything myself and adding to an already full plate. These students, who have expressed an interest in ministry, learn by doing as I guide them through the various steps we plan together. Recently my current intern, Stephen, planned and led our youth lock-in. He leads our youth praise team and pours into them in a way I can’t.
Students Learn More
Regardless of how good a teacher is, students will learn more when they have to teach others themselves, plus the value of learning from their mistakes. We use video as a way for the students to go back and see themselves and evaluate how they did. In fact, evaluation is a big part of the process as we survey staff, students, and parents to make sure we are hitting the targets we need to. For example, when Stephen was able to evaluate his role with the recent lock-in, he learned that procrastination can be a potential pitfall in his style of leadership. Having this opportunity taught him an invaluable lesson he may not have learned without experiencing this type of responsibility as a student leader.
Having a Culturally Relevant Ministry
No matter how good, relevant and gifted a youth pastor is, they are always getting older! Having a student-led ministry allows me to get help, guidance and application in what will be best for the audience we’re trying to reach. Culture changes so fast that it is exhausting for one person to keep up with what is in and considered cool with today’s students.
Recently, when I needed discussion questions for a teaching topic, I asked Stephen and my other student leaders to write the questions. They did a great job and I was so glad I had asked for their input since they went a whole different, and far better, direction than I would have!
Eric Miller is a graduate of The National Institute, the youth ministry major of Grace College under the direction of CE National. He is an Operation Barnabas alum, has been an adult OB leader many times over, and is a regular contributor to the core planning team for the Momentum Youth Conference. Eric was recently ordained, is married to Bethany, and they are expecting their first baby. He also boldly predicts that next year the Cubs will win the World Series and the Bears will still be a bad football team…