Leadership From Within

There I was, standing before a group of 40 something Middle School students on a Wednesday night wondering how I got myself into this mess…there was me, and there was them, and together, we were it.

The reality was that I had come to a place where over the previous three years I had recruited leadership for our Wednesday night children’s ministry, some of the best leaders our Church had, but I never thought ahead to the point that one day, that ministry would feed into my own, which was only at 10-15 students on a good night. The leaders in the children’s ministry loved on kids and taught them with excitement and energy. Then it seemed like it happened all at once, I was alone with a lot of middle school students and I never saw it coming.

There was a leadership void in our Wednesday night middle school ministry. I could not fill it by myself, nor was I willing to pull leaders from our children’s ministry to help me, because they had created what I now see as a good problem in our middle school ministry.

I was forced to consider the resources God had put at First Baptist Church and I realized one of the greatest resources was the High School students who had come up through the children’s and middle school ministries. A plan began to develop that I ran by my pastor. He was supportive and I took the idea and ran, only finding out a year or so later that he was thinking during our conversation that there was no way the idea would work.

I created a system of leadership on Wednesday nights that created opportunities for students to serve as leaders within our student ministry. In the early stages, and in its simplest form, a created three levels of leadership that were incorporated into our new Wednesday night structure:

  1. Small Group Leader – 11th or 12th grade student that serves in a small group by leading the conversation over the Bible story I teach. They are also responsible for apprenticing the Assistant Leader. (“Apprenticing” has become a part of our leadership language and it comes from the book Exponential by Dave and Jon Ferguson)
  2. Assistant Leader – A 9th or 10th grade student that serves in a small group by setting up the room, and occasionally leading the small group under the supervision of the Leader. They are also responsible for apprenticing the Junior Leader.
  3. Junior Leader – A middle school student that serves in a small group by taking attendance and getting information from new students in their small groups.

The system continues to grow and now I have students that lead in ways they are comfortable with: Big Group Games Leader, Music Leader, Sound Tech, Big Room Setup, and I even have three adults now that serve by building relationships with students and serving food.

The question I continue to ask our team is, “How do we develop our student ministry leadership culture?” and that is a much better place to start than, “There I was, standing before a group of 40 something Middle School students on a Wednesday night wondering how I got myself into this mess…”

Tique Hamilton serves at FBC Sweetwater. He seeks to experience God in the ordinary. He loves good coffee and conversation with those who drink it correctly.