Leverage influence is the part of the Orange strategy that primarily targets students. Although I oversee a student pastor and student ministry, my primary ministry gifting lies in children’s ministry. I’d really appreciate hearing from some student pastors who are putting this into practice. However, I don’t speak from someone who hasn’t experienced this. I look at the students at my church and the ones who are strongest in their faith are the ones serving weekly in the childrens ministry or middle school. Most importantly, this is how I was “discipled.” I am a product of this strategic element.
What is this idea of leveraging influence? It’s equipping students to live out what they’re learning and to be a part of an adventure that is bigger than themselves.
Reggie explains that there are four philosophies of student ministry:
- Stop them from going to hell
- Keep them for raising hell
- Scare the hell out of them
- Give them weapons to charge hell
Our best resource for discipleship and volunteerism is to take a teenager and give them the tools and let them be a part of rescuing a generation. This type of mentality sets a teenager up for spiritual success. Here’s what I’ve seen in my years of ministry experience. I’ve seen student ministries where only adults are aloud to lead and students merely participate. This creates a church subculture that allows students no place to go once graduating from school as they’ve never had a chance to integrate with normal church life. I’ve also seen children’s ministries that “use” teenagers (I’ve been guilty of this as well). The sound booth becomes the Jr. High hangout. Children’s pastors are grateful for the help, but frustrated with the unreliability of these teenage helpers.
Let me speak more to the children’s ministry side of this issue of “using” teenagers? Once we have an integrated strategy, the concern of the children’s ministry should be both that of impacting kids and helping develop these teenage participants. I know too many chidlren’s pastors (including myself) who were called to the ministry while serving in childrens ministry as a teenager. What a great opportunity for kingdom building within our churches? How can we work better with student pastors to serve their goals for their teenagers?
Leveraging influence involves creating opportunities for students to make a difference. At times this may call for folding papers, setting up curriculum boxes and other brainless work; however, what in ministry can we give them that is significant? People feel significant when we give them something significant to do? If the end goal is a teenager who is strong in faith and making a difference in the world, it’s unlikey that this will happen without engaging them in ministry work. In Think Orange, Reggie says “If what they ahve heard never moves from their heads to their hands, it will probably never make it to their hearts.” Create opportunities for students to live the adventure.
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I totally agree that it is about the experience for students. We learn best through doing, failing, doing some more, and achieving our goals. The church has been a child watch service for far too long. Student pastors everywhere should take serious their responsibility to lead students and parents on their journey. Lead pastors should take serious the ministry that is going on with students. The church should stand behind the student ministry in spite of how messy it can get. We have them as moldable students for a short time. We have to make the most of that time by making it real for them. Give them “on the job” experience in this thing called the church and Christianity.
Wow, I’ve never really reflected on that before, but I served in “the nursery” as soon as they let me and served throughout my teenage years. It did indeed build a foundation that led me to vocational ministry. Nice to think about!
Really great to meet you today after knowing you online for a year. 🙂 Thanks for coordinating Orange Week! Now to make every week Orange Week at the office! 🙂