Developing Systems in Student Ministry: A MUST HAVE

One of the big things that I have learned in my leadership development over the years is that it isn’t good enough to say something and hope it happens… or say something over and over again and hope it happens either.  What I have learned is that the most successful youth ministries, organizations, etc… Say what they value, and then reinforce what they value through SYSTEMS.


organization: “We love leadership development”

random observer: “Oh really?  How many leaders have you developed?”

organization: “Well… we haven’t developed any yet on purpose”

random observer: “So… would it be fair to say then that you love the IDEA of leadership development?” 🙂

Ideas without systems are just good ideas… and they don’t usually go anywhere on purpose.  It is usually easy to spot an organization, youth ministry, etc… that struggles with systems.  How?  Just follow the word trail.  How many ideas actually are implemented and effective for the long haul?

When it comes to student ministry, we could probably name off multiple things that need systems in order for them to run effectively… but I want to concentrate on putting systems with what we have identified as organizational values.  I’ll share with you what Hopevale Student Ministries’ 4 main values are and the systems we put into place to make sure that EVERYONE in our ministry knows these are big values for us:

VALUE #1: Relationship Evangelism  

SYSTEM: INVEST, INFORM, INVITE  (we strategically throughout the year have events and nights that we call INVEST nights.  We use this hashtag on our twitter and facebook posts when it makes sense to.  We teach on it almost every year… and it comes up a lot even in talks that aren’t completely about it.  We had cards printed at the beginning of this year where students wrote down names of friends that they were going to pray about going through this process with.  If you are going to call this a value… you have to have a system to back it up.)

VALUE #2: Large group Learning  

SYSTEM: SUNDAY NIGHT PROGRAMMING (this one kind of speaks for itself.  We stole Northpoint Church’s verbage with our programming and systematized how we program.  We want every night to be APPEALING, ENGAGING, & HELPFUL.)

VALUE #3: Small group Discipleship  

SYSTEM: COMMUNITY GROUPS (we identified that students (people) grow best in the context of mentors and peers… so we made our main growth engine reflect that.  We recruit and train great mentors for students and have at least 2 mentors per group (gender and grade specific).  We take the time to train and develop these leaders (although we could always do a better job) and we also have accountability and celebration in place to help them feel that what they are doing matters.  One main thing we are starting next year to get even better at this is developing group leader coaches who can consistently be in the lives of group leaders for care and mentoring.  If we say that we value this and think it is the best engine for discipleship… we need it for our leaders too.)

VALUE #4: Missional Serving  

SYSTEM: CRASH MONTHS, OUTREACH OPPORTUNITIES (we adopted the “crash” mentality. (crash is a group of rhinos)  we decided that if we could get everyone in our ministry to focus all of their energy toward a project… we could do some awesome things.  So we have dedicated a month the past 2 years to putting rocket fuel into this value and giving students BIG opportunities to serve.  Our strategy involves local organizations that they can serve at, country wide serving opportunities, and overseas mission endeavors.  Then we use these months to promo other serving opportunities throughout the year.

That is how we do it… it is A way, not THE way.  The most important thing is that you put SYSTEMS to what you value so that your values don’t get lumped in with just another thing that is said and never accomplished.

So… what are some of the systems you have wrapped around your values?


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