Student Ownership

I wanted to share with you guys what I’ve been learning about ownership among students in youth group.  Meaning that the students have a sense that this is their group; they’re bought into the mission.  The mission is to live, love, and tell people about Jesus.  So, how do we develop the students that we have and continually be bringing in more students to hear the gospel? This is where ownership comes in.

Bringing in the Masses
What makes a student want to bring friends to youth group or start to get involved?  When they feel like they belong, when cool stuff is happening, when they’re learning about Jesus, or when they feel like a friend needs Jesus.  All these options are true and much more.  The main reason we do youth group is to reach people, to tell them about Jesus, and to help them grow in their relationship with Him.  We need our students to bring their friends, right!?  We, as leaders, can’t go into every school and invite every kid to come to youth group.  So, how do we consistently get through to our students that they should be inviting their friends to youth group?  And then how do we get them to take ownership of their group and start getting involved?

I remember when I was in high school and for the first three years of being in youth group, I didn’t want to invite my friends because this was my thing that I did.  I wanted to hoard all the cool people and all the awesome things I was learning to myself.  It wasn’t until senior year that I caught the mission of what youth group was for; to tell people about Jesus.  How could I not tell everyone about that?  And then I started to get involved and be apart of welcome teams, helping with games, set up, etc.  I started doing this because I was bought into the mission.

Getting Involved:
I see students in my youth group now catching that wind.  They get it.  They take ownership of the group and want others to come and see and hear about Jesus through music, games, small groups, the message, hospitality, etc.  They’re getting involved with all sorts of things and using their creativity to do so.  They offer to help, they join into meetings with ideas, and we see them going deeper in their faith.

There are many ways to create ownership in students but here are some ideas that I’ve seen be successful:

  1. Reiterate the purpose of youth group; the mission.  Right now our phrase is “Jesus Over Everything.”
  2. Find leaders in your group.  Be on the lookout for creatives in your group.  Maybe someone loves setting up.  Ask them to come early to help with set up.  Maybe someone loves people.  Have them help with welcoming people in.  Or maybe you have someone that is musically talented.  Get them in the worship band.  So many ideas. Get them involved.
  3. Get students’ ideas. Ask them what ideas they have to be more welcoming, game ideas, song ideas, sermon topics, etc.
  4. Small Groups. This can be a big one.  Creating a safe place for a student to go to.  This smaller group of people could be where they grow to become more confident and feel like themselves, which could then go on to them inviting someone into that atmosphere.  Serve together as a small group.  Create that ownership of that group, which then bleeds into ownership of the bigger group.

The Mission Continues:
When students are bought in, you can start to see the difference in all facets of their life.  The hope is for students to grow during their teen years, to not only come to the youth program of the church but to also be a part of the larger church body.  And after they leave high school to continue to be apart of the Church wherever they may go.  Taking ownership of the mission, the reason behind why we do what we do will help them go on to be world changers.  And that could be in all different facets; from home churches, to outreach projects, to animal shelters, to bringing Jesus into their work field.  The mission carries on with them.  So, to start this ownership process in our own students, let’s keep our eyes open for those creative individuals that we can empower to do big things.

Becca Ebenhoch
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Guest Blogger
Becca has done youth ministry in various places across the US and is currently involved in youth ministry in Modesto, CA.

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