Recently, I was asked to teach our small group leaders a workshop on how to get students to serve. This topic is impossible to fully answer in a 15 minute workshop or 500 word blog, but here are my condensed thoughts on it. I believe that getting students to serve should make us focus on two parties:
On the Leaders – It is impossible to get students to serve if you, as their leader, don’t believe in them. We need to believe that, through the Lord, students can change the world. I was talking with a friend recently about a project that some of our student leaders did at their school and they were so surprised that high school students did it. In today’s society, people have such low expectations of what a high schooler is capable of, and that mentality has rubbed off on them. They hold themselves back from making an impact because they don’t believe they can. If we want to break that, we first need to REALLY care about seeing students serve and believe that it is important. Whether you are 14 or 40, God has called us ALL to serve. That needs to be evident in the way we shepherd our students. If we don’t care, we can’t expect them to care.
On the Students – The first, and most important, part of this process is prayer. Nothing is accomplishable without the Lord having His hand in the situation. We need to be praying that the Lord stirs up a passion for serving in our students and gives them the confidence that God has prepared them for that purpose. There are a lot of students out there who don’t know they are gifted. For these students, we need to be take every opportunity we can to point out areas in which they are talented. Be honest with them! The goal isn’t flattery; it’s helping them understand how they are created!
Some students already know that they are gifted but they aren’t using them for the purpose of serving. This comes from the lack of understanding that these gifts are created FOR serving. I think that students believe that their talents and abilities are their own, and that they choose to use them to serve God. They don’t know that those gifts were GIVEN to them for the purpose of serving. That can be a game-changing idea.
The last thought that I think students should learn is that serving isn’t boring and it isn’t a chore. Since they were designed for it, serving is something that they will find joy in! Think of it like a hobby. People like hobbies because they care about them and/or are good at them. Serving is the same way! As youth pastors, we know that serving isn’t always puppy dogs and fairytales, but at the end of the day we love what we do because we are fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.
Again, I could write about this topic for days and still have so much to say. These are just a few of the actions and ideas that I’ve seen work in our ministry. How do you get students to serve?