Youth leadership development is a topic that needs to be a top priority for any forward-thinking church (or school or community group.) After all, nothing represents the continuity our energy and efforts more than the generation that follows us. Today’s youth leaders represent our future and our investment into the next generation will determine the return, so this is a responsibility to be taken seriously.

Interested in making sure your own youth leadership program is a shining success? Take these proven tips to heart, apply them and be amazed at the results. A winning youth leadership development program is within your reach.

1. Make Sure Your Pastor is On Board

The first key to a successful program is making sure it has the support of your church’s leadership. This is essential in ensuring the program moves forward with minimal speed bumps. Getting the approval shouldn’t be difficult, but it is necessary to give the program every chance of blossoming into an important part of your youth activities. This also doesn’t mean your pastor needs to run the program. That responsibility can fall elsewhere.

2. Set Clear and Achievable Goals

kid ministryTrying to run a successful youth leadership development program without clear, achievable goals is like trying to drive across country without a map. You may make progress, but chances are you won’t be taking the optimal route and you will certainly experience a great deal of frustration on your trip! Sit down and put to paper short and long term goals for your program; the more clear cut, the better. Is it to graduate twenty students from the program this year? Write down your goals and do your best to make it happen. It’s much easier to hit a target when you know what you’re aiming for.

3. Trust Youth

One of the undeniable ways to show faith in your youth leadership development program, is to entrust your church youth to make important decisions about the program. There’s hardly a better way to get church youth more enthusiastic about their program than by showing this kind of trust and confidence. Now, of course, we need adults to mentor, spiritually guide and administer certain aspects of the youth leadership program, but this shouldn’t deny the key roles that senior youth can (and should) play. These are the kinds of experiences that mold our boys and girls into positive, caring and contributing men and women. Embrace these opportunities every time you can!

4. Have an Awesome Place to Hold Youth Leadership Meetings

A safe, warm and comfortable place for youth leadership meetings to be held is our next must-have. While each of our churches may be working with different budgets and resources, every effort should be made to give these meetings access to whatever audio and video tools we can muster to help them succeed. Don’t forget the medium can help carry the message! Music, movies and more, should all be available to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

5. Offer Unique Challenges

Can anyone deny youth love excitement, adventure and challenge? When our program offers leadership development flavored by these experiences, we can make education as fun as it is effective. And when education is fun, there’s less worry that our youth won’t show up and learn the important life skills designed to serve them, their peers and their church. Resist the tendency to be too serious by encouraging smiles and laughter. Give the youth a reason to keep coming back other than a stoic sense of responsibility! Unique, fun challenges bring out the best in our future youth leaders.

6. Don’t Ignore Fundraising

Make no mistake, the better funded your youth leadership development program is, the greater its ability to succeed will be. It’s an unavoidable fact of life, so do your best to overcome any shyness about fundraising. It’s for the best of causes and the more effective you (or whoever will be in charge of fundraising) is the better shape your program will ultimately be in. The chances are there’s many people involved in both your church and community who would love to help out the program once you share with them all the exciting details of what you’re doing now and plan for the future. Spread the word!

7. Leverage a Proven Leadership Training System

There’s an undeniable advantage plugging your church youth into a proven self-development system that has produced clear results, again and again. A good example of this type of program is the LLR (Launching a Leadership Revolution) program found at Levaire.com. When you leverage a professional system as one of the cornerstones of your youth leadership development efforts, you deliver principles of success into your youth; many of whom may be receiving this information for the first time.

8. Pay Close Attention to Parent Feedback

We should never forget the great trust placed in us when parents allow us to spiritually and socially shepherd their children. Feedback from parents on how their children are responding to the leadership program should always be listened to carefully. Parents can often offer us a perspective than can be both helpful and constructive. Make it as easy and as comfortable as possible for parents to contact the program’s directors.

9. Keep a Positive Attitude

There will be ups and downs, especially in the early days of your youth leadership program. How you respond to these opportunities will help determine the degree of the program’s success. Like with nearly every other church related effort a positive attitude is not only its own reward, but can set the mood for others who look up to you for guidance. Strive to think positive, speak positive and act positive. This type of attitude is infectious in all the best ways.

Get Started!

Starting and running a vibrant youth leadership development program are two of the best things you can do to for the future of your church. With these tips in mind, the willingness to take action and God’s grace, you are way ahead of the curve in making sure your program is a success.

Remember: The first steps are always the most difficult, so keep your chin up and get to work!