For Youth Leaders And Their Youth Groups

10 Ways to Be a Better Youth Leader

For Youth Leaders And Their Youth Groups

A lot of Christians think they aren’t cut out for youth ministry. But if you love Jesus and you care about kids, everything else falls into place.

In my five years working with middle school students I’ve met multiple 80 year olds who are incredible youth leaders—and it’s not for their spunky personalities and crazy dance skills. They love Jesus and they love kids. When you boil it down, that’s what really matters.

If you start with Jesus, all of the intricacies of youth leading should align conceptually, biblically, and practically. You should be able to trace everything back to Jesus.

Here are ten things every youth leader should know:

1. Have a purpose for everything

Let’s be honest. From the outside looking in, there’s a lot of weird stuff that happens at youth groups. Beach ball ballet, cricket-spitting contests, fruit baseball, and an endless list of games, skits, and programs that don’t seem in any way connected to sharing the gospel.

But if you know the purpose behind each component, then even the goofy and weird parts make sense.

Some games give lonely, left out, or neglected kids the chance to be noticed, cheered, and celebrated. Other games force kids to work together—regardless of who they’re friends with at school.

Wacky leader skits can create laughter, break down walls, and show kids that there is a child joy in everyone. For leaders, those same activities can offer an opportunity to step their own comfort zone and put kids before themselves.

I’ve worked with leaders who refused to put themselves in front of kids and be goofy alongside them because “it wasn’t their gifting.

” It’s definitely important to recognize what you’re good at and what you’re not good at (so you know how you’re best suited to serve your team), but if we understand the why behind each aspect of youth group, it becomes a lot less about us and a lot more about the kids, Jesus, and the ways we let God use us.

2. Humble yourself

The more cool, holy, or amazing you present yourself as, the more distant kids will feel from you.

You’re also the person who happens to be proclaiming the gospel and sharing about Jesus—do the math.

Leaders should show kids that Jesus meets them right where they are, loves them as they are, and desires to be a part of their lives right now—not once they become as cool, holy, and amazing as their leaders.

When Kids Hurt is a great resource to help you navigate the adolescent world.

You were a kid once. If you’re made of flesh and blood, you probably sinned once, too. It’s not always best to share all the details of your sin without a relational foundation, but the more vulnerable you are with kids, the more ly they are to share the sin in their lives too. If we hide, so do they.

Humility isn’t just important for our relationships with kids. If you serve in a youth ministry, chances are good that you work with a team of volunteers.

Serving in ministry together is a surprisingly dangerous opportunity for selfishness to creep into our lives. It’s easy to feel by being on the team we are fulfilling our duties, checking the box, or doing our time.

But if you’ve committed to being a part of the team, share the load. Don’t dump everything onto one person—especially not the person giving the message.

If someone else on your team is directly communicating the gospel, help that leader give kids their best by allowing them to focus on preparing their message.

3. Seek the kids in the corners

No matter how awesome your youth group is, there will always be kids in the corners. The ones who show up because their parents made them come, or a cute boy or girl is there too.

They think the games are dumb and the leaders are weird. Or maybe they just want everyone else to think they’re too cool to be there.

Either way, God has brought them to your youth group, and he’s entrusted them to you for an hour or two each week.

Sometimes kids genuinely aren’t interested in what’s going on, and you can’t and shouldn’t force them to join in. But sometimes kids stand in the corners to see if anyone will notice.

If a kid without friends comes to youth group, where he/she doesn’t have friends, how do you make the body of Christ look different than school? Involve them. Love them. Imitate God’s relentless pursuit of their hearts.

4. Share the joy of the gospel

The gospel isn’t boring. A lot of kids think it is, because their only exposure to it is from reading a translation of a 2,000-year-old book, or listening to messages crafted for adults. Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life (a youth ministry designed for kids who don’t go to church), once said “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.

” Whether or not you agree with Rayburn, Christians can’t overlook the potential damage of presenting the most exciting truth in the history of the world as stale, old, and irrelevant. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and there are countless ways to show kids that the life and truth it contains is applicable to their lives today.

5. Know your kids

Knowing your kids means more than just knowing who they are. It means knowing how they will respond to different situations, and preparing your events with them in mind.

Some kids love being the center of attention, and some kids fall apart when you put them in front of a group. It’s important to give kids equal opportunity to shine, but the risk of humiliating a kid or making them feel alone and outcast is not worth the potential reward of making them feel adored.

If a kid is checking out your youth group for the first time and you’ve never had any interaction with them, you might want to be careful about throwing them into a game that requires them to be outgoing and comfortable in front of everyone.

It’s also important to know where your kids are at spiritually. This doesn’t mean you should ask every kid who comes through the door, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Those conversations should happen, but not before you develop a relationship with them and earn the right to ask those deeply intimate questions.

There are countless reasons why a kid might walk in through the doors of your youth ministry, and a lot of them aren’t Jesus (at least, not from the kid’s perspective).

Over-spiritualizing a kid’s experience can actually prevent them from having a spiritual experience. St. Francis of Assisi is often attributed with saying, “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.

” Youth ministry is an excellent context to practice reflecting Christ through the way you love and live.

6. Don’t embarrass kids*

Kids live in constant fear of humiliation. The last place they should have to live out their worst nightmares is at youth group—where they are also learning that they are loved and valued by God.

*See #5 and #1. If you know a kid well enough and you’re confident that their class-clown spirit will allow them to embrace and appreciate the experience, and the embarrassment serves a purpose, mild embarrassment may be acceptable.

7. Meet parents

You could be the nicest, most caring and trustworthy person on the planet, but if parents don’t know you, how can you expect them to trust you with their kids?

Building a relationship with parents is especially important for middle school and elementary school ministries, where kids are fully dependent on their parents to even be able to show up at your events. Sometimes meeting parents is effortless because they actively seek out the leaders who work with their kids. Other times, meeting parents takes work.

Even if they don’t care who you are or who their kids hang out with, it will always be worth it to you in your ministry to get to know the people who have raised the kids God has placed at your feet.

When kids leave, walk them out to whoever picks them up. Better yet, offer to give them a ride, and use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself to their parents.

Don’t let the inside of the church be the only place your life overlaps with your kids’.

8. Put your relationship with Jesus first

This may seem selfish in a way, but the reality is, the more we put Jesus first, the more we love those around us. When you put your relationship with Jesus first, the purpose and significance of everything you do and say to others is amplified, not reduced.

Phrases , “You can only lead someone as far as you’ve gone” may be cliché, but they still carry weight.

If you aren’t pursuing your own relationship with Jesus, how can you honestly encourage kids that it’s important to their faith? If you aren’t reading your Bible, praying, and surrounding yourself with Christians who are wiser than yourself, you aren’t offering your best to your ministry, your kids, or God. These are your tools of the trade, and if you aren’t using your tools, how can you do your job?

9. Honor your commitment

Hopefully getting involved with a youth group wasn’t just a passing fancy you had in church one day. Stepping into ministry of any kind is something that should be prayerfully considered, discussed with God and with wise people in your life, and surrounded with spiritual preparation.

If you’ve committed to leading kids at your church or through another ministry, honor God, your kids, and the leaders on your team by being trustworthy, accountable, and invested in the work you are doing together.

Today’s kids have been dubbed “the fatherless generation.” Youth leaders can’t abandon them too. Leaving ministry should be considered just as carefully and prayerfully as entering it.

10. Get a mentor

One of the biggest dangers facing people in ministry is burnout. It’s easy to be excited about something when you first get going, but after a couple years, or a decade, how do you stay excited? And more importantly, how do you draw from your experience while still treating each experience and each kid as something entirely new and wonderful?

The key is having a mentor.

If you are constantly pouring into the lives of kids and nobody is pouring into you, sooner or later you’re going to feel empty. Whether that mentor is a pastor, a more experienced leader, or a wise friend from church, you need somebody who can offer you fresh perspective, hold you accountable, pray for you, love you, and inspire you to keep going (Hebrews 10:24).

What else do you think youth leaders should know? Tell us in the comments!

* * *

Want to build a volunteer program that lasts? Can Someone Please Volunteer? is a free ebook packed with insights to help you recruit, train, and retain more volunteers.

Sign up to get your free copy.

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Information for Youth Leaders

For Youth Leaders And Their Youth Groups

(articles, documents, resources regarding youth orienteers and orienteering)

From PBS Parents: Why children still need to read (and draw) maps (January 27, 2016)

In order to develop strong orienteers with good navigation skills, Orienteering USA provides a number of resources to support those who coach, teach, and otherwise lead our youth.

A trainer's perspective

Read one scout trainer's account of teaching Boy Scouts at Nobscot State Reservation in Massachusetts in fall 2010.

Information for Club Leaders

We’ve been asked what clubs can do to support the junior development programs, and thought it would be useful to share the information more widely via this article.  Here are 10 specific things that clubs could do:

  • Create new weekly training opportunities, separate from local events/meets.  
  •  Invite juniors to meet up at local meets at a specific time so that they can see each other.  For example, you might encourage juniors to meet at 10:30, and warm up together for 10-15 minutes.  After their races, they can do a cool-down run together, and then do a map review.  
  • Organize control pick-up games after local meets, where kids go out in teams.  A team of mixed abilities gives the younger kids a chance to see what it’s to move with speed and confidence in the woods.  At a local event in Seattle, 10 kids in 5 groups of 2 picked up 60 controls in 24 minutes.
  • Invite juniors to take leadership roles and give back to their club.  For example, they might design courses, run registration, make calls for volunteers, or organize junior gatherings.
  • Know which kids are in the National Junior Program (NJP), and ensure that they have local mentors and the support they need to train and compete at a higher level.  Recruit kids to the NJP.  Stay in touch with Coaches Erin Schirm and Greg Ahlswede, as well as the JTESC, about promising juniors.
  • Financial support for juniors:  Pick one or two club meets a year and dedicate the net proceeds to the U.S. Junior Team.  Involve local juniors in organizing and running the event.
  • Develop new fun programs to draw in new kids.  We have some ideas about how to do this — contact us!
  • Apply for a grant from Orienteering USA to seed a local development program. We’re inviting Development Team members to make voluntary donations to Orienteering USA for this purpose. A few years from now, we’d to see financially sustainable local programs, with paid staff, serving hundreds of kids learning to run, navigate and have fun in the woods.  
  • Hold an informational and planning meeting for local coaches.

We’ve heard about some great new and existing local junior activities organized by clubs:

  • NEOC has a subcommittee studying the possibility of collaborating with Adventure Racing Kids® and Golden Horseshoe Orienteering on a new Boston-area program.
  • Gary Kraght of BAOC has started exploring a similar navigation/running program to bring in new kids.
  • Cascade Orienteering Club’s WIOL school league has been going strong for decades.  Coaches Rick and Eileen Breseman of COC are putting on Wednesday afternoon training, open to all ages; the focus is one part orienteering, one part physical training and a shared meal to follow.
  • OCIN also organizes a school league in the southern Ohio area.
  • CSU has a weekly training session year-round that includes a couple of juniors. 
  • WCOC is designing a weekend junior training camp.  BAOC will include junior activities in this summer’s Sierra Fest.
  • A committee of DVOA members is working on a new and exciting schedule for the DVOA juniors that includes training opportunities, social activities, group fundraisers and giving back to the club opportunities as well.  They are planning activities in all parts of the very large geographic area covered by the club, to include as many of the juniors as possible.
  • A number of JROTC and military academy teams hold regular practices during the week. This year (2013) at West Point, ten of the thirty USMAOC team members are juniors, and they practice four to five days a week.

this section last updated 18 April 2013

For Young Orienteers

Are you a junior orienteer who wants to connect with others across the country? Join the Development Team! Find out more about this and other training opportunities on our Youth page or in the Junior Team section.

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10 Qualities of a Youth Pastor (And How to Develop Them)

For Youth Leaders And Their Youth Groups

People expect a lot from pastors. If you’re a youth pastor, it might feel parents and church members are putting every aspect of a your life under a microscope.

When your church looks at you, they want to see the qualities they hope their kids have someday. As frustrating as it can be at times, it’s absolutely important for churches to be careful about who they entrust with the spiritual upbringing of teens in their community—youth pastors play a vital role in shaping who kids become (Luke 6:40).

But pastors are still humans. You can’t control every aspect of your life—you can’t choose your family, change your past, or erase your flaws.

You also can’t control people’s expectations for pastors—even if they’re completely unrealistic. You can, however, intentionally develop the reasonable qualities churches expect youth pastors to have.

If the list below doesn’t sound it’s describing you, that’s OK—I’ll provide some suggestions to help you work on them.

Here are 10 qualities churches want youth pastors to have:

1. Organizational skills

Nobody s to feel their time is being wasted. Especially not kids. If you lose their attention with sloppy transitions or too much “hang out” time, you may be setting your message up for failure and undermining future attempts at meaningful conversation. The moment a kid feels you’re wasting their time, you’ve lost them.

Depending on the size of your church and the number of staff you have, you could be managing several very different groups of kids. Middle school. High school. College.

Emerging adults? Pre-middle school? Student leaders? Small groups? Just staying on top of the sheer number of groups is a constant juggling act.

And if you don’t separate those groups, you’ll constantly struggle to address their diverse needs.

Even if you have a team of people helping you stay on top of things, you might feel you need a degree in Chaos Management to be a youth pastor.

But survival isn’t the only reason why strong organizational skills are important in a youth pastor. It’s also a quality most kids desperately need to see from the adults in their lives.

For most teenagers, procrastination is the norm. As long as they’re still getting things done, it’s not the end of the world (despite what their parents may tell you), but if they can’t stay organized either, they’re going to have a rocky transition to adulthood.

As a youth pastor, it’s incredibly challenging to stay organized. But if you can pull it off, you can pass on your secrets to kids as they struggle through major life transitions. You can even invite your student leaders to be part of the process.

If you struggle to stay organized, try experimenting with a variety of methods. Write everything down (use sticky notes if you have to). Set yourself reminders with the calendar in your phone. Delegate the tasks that don’t require your expertise—or better yet, use your expertise to train someone! As you try new methods, keep what helps, and ditch what doesn’t.

2. Integrity

This is a no-brainer. Not only is it a biblical quality all Christians should strive for (Titus 2:7–8, Proverbs 11:3, 2 Corinthians 8:21), but integrity is one of the main things parents and church staff expect to see in a youth pastor.

Kids are learning from you all the time, not just when you’re preaching. If you can’t model what it means to follow Christ in your own life, how can parents trust you to teach their kids to follow him?

This isn’t about being perfect. In fact, to me, one of the clearest signs of integrity is how someone handles failure. Do they own up to their mistakes, or excuse them? A hypocritical youth pastor quickly erodes a teenager’s trust in the church, Christianity, the Bible, and God.

If integrity is something you struggle with, accountability can be a powerful tool to help you develop it. Find a mentor or godly friend you can be honest and vulnerable with. Be transparent about your flaws and mistakes when appropriate. Don’t let kids walk away believing you think you’re perfect.

3. People skills

Not everyone has to you. But if you’re a jerk, it makes it pretty hard to be a pastor at all, let alone a youth pastor. You have to interact with parents, kids, church staff, members of the community, maybe even teachers or school staff. As you try to develop relationships with kids, every conversation has the potential to open or close doors for your ministry.

For many teens, one awkward conversation can make or break a relationship. If you don’t remember their names, your conversations feel scripted (or a conversation with their parents), or you consistently make a kid the butt of your jokes, you’re going to have a hard time making disciples.

As you prayerfully approach your ministry, write down the names of people you expect to see again. Take notes from your conversations so you can build on them later. Pray for them by name. If you struggle with talking to people, create a list of thoughtful questions in advance, so you don’t feel lost after “How are you?”

Prayer and planning make an excellent substitute for natural charisma.

4. Confidence

Regardless of how comfortable you are in front of people, churches will expect you to share the gospel with confidence. And for youth pastors, confidence is vital to break through the inevitable awkwardness of starting meaningful conversations with kids.

You don’t have to be confident about everything—that’s just annoying. But you’d better be confident about why you’re here. Even for an introvert me, sometimes that little spark of confidence that God has called me to my role is all it takes to confidently carry out my duties. If you’re not confident God has called you, your youth pastor interviews might not last very long.

If you struggle with confidence, I have two recommendations, neither of which is guaranteed to transform you into a confident person:

1. Pray.
2. Practice the things you’re not confident about.

Your role as a youth pastor is probably always going to keep you on your toes. So practice being on your toes, and ask God to give you the strength to stay there.

5. Bible knowledge

Being a youth pastor isn’t something you do until you know enough to become “a real pastor.” You’re a pastor, and you better know your Bible intimately.

To be an effective youth pastor, you’ll probably need to tie your Bible knowledge together with theological study. Depending on the church, you may or may not need a Master of Divinity degree.

Without some kind of seminary training though, you might not even make it to the interview questions.

A degree doesn’t inherently mean that you have a more intimate relationship with Jesus, or that you depend on the Bible to do your job, but it does show a church that you’ve had the necessary training to 1) process Scripture for yourself and 2) clearly articulate it with others.

Whether or not you need a seminary-level education is up to the church board, elders, or pastors who hire you. But even if you can’t afford the classes, some of the best teachers in the world are available to you through books. Read them. Consume podcasts and sermons candy. At the very, very least, read your Bible regularly. And pray (James 1:5).

6. Cultural familiarity

Culture is constantly changing, but that’s not an excuse to ignore it. Even if you don’t have new kids regularly showing up at your youth group, the kids you already have are interacting with that ever-changing world on a daily basis. Being “in the world not of it” (John 17:16) doesn’t mean Christians are (or should be) in any way oblivious to the world.

Jesus directly engaged Jewish and Roman culture. If you want to show kids that the Word of God is living and active in their world, then bring the gospel to them where they’re at.

The next generation of pastors isn’t going to be just you. They’re going to talk different than you. Dress different than you. They may even see the world differently than you. And that’s okay. Train the kids of today for the world of tomorrow by teaching them how to biblically be a part of culture.

This will either sound crazy or cliché, but try watching the shows your kids watch. Listen to the music they listen to. If you’re not comfortable with that, at least read about their culture. Learn about the world they live in before you try to tell them how to live in it.

7. Empathy

Kids crave friendships with people who understand them. People who know what they’re going through and how it makes them feel. As a youth pastor, empathy is one of the greatest gifts you can offer a hurting kid.

Whether they’re dealing with the heartbreak of their parents’ divorce, the hollow pain of a breakup, the pressure of school, or the frustrations of addiction, empathy helps you comfort teens when they need it most.

Empathy doesn’t mean you’ve been through exactly what they’re going through before. It means you have the emotional intelligence to feel what other people feel without having to experience it yourself.

My whole life, people have told me I was a good listener. It took me a long time to see the connection—to see what they really meant.

I took the time to hear what they were saying and imagine what they were feeling before speaking. I might even go so far as to say that being a good listener is a prerequisite to having empathy.

And that’s almost biblical (James 1:19). If you struggle with empathy, listening well is a good place to start.

8. Maturity

They don’t hire kids to be youth pastors.

Having maturity doesn’t mean you have to be married and have three kids and a house and insurance. You can have all those things and still be incredibly immature (you might even know people who meet that criteria).

For youth pastors, it means that you put God first in everything. It means that you do what’s right even when it’s hard. And it means that you strike that perfect balance between relating to the world of kids and being an adult.

You don’t have to collect experiences and earn Maturity Badges to develop maturity. You don’t even have to have a really exciting testimony. If you feel you’re just not mature enough to be a youth pastor, get a mentor. Heck, get two. Absorb the experience and wisdom of the people God has already put in your life.

9. Leadership

As a youth pastor, you lead kids into a relationship with Christ. Your position in kids’ lives makes you the go-to person for kids to consult about their greatest milestones, achievements, and challenges.

Leadership is a given.

Probably, before you ever decided to become a youth pastor, someone told you that you were a leader. Maybe you identified it about yourself. Or maybe, you just really care about kids and you love Jesus and can’t imagine doing anything else with your life. Either way, leadership is a gift that constantly needs to be honed.

Hopefully, you already have leaders you admire. Pastors. Coaches. CEOs. Professors. Read their books. Listen to them talk about how they do what they do. Reflect on what you admire about them—it may even be some of the qualities on this list. The more you actively follow leaders you want to emulate, the easier it is to continue growing as a leader yourself.

I know I keep saying this, but get a mentor. Find a leader in your community you’d to be more , and start meeting with them regularly. Or, join (or build) a community of leaders who all want to grow together.

When my brother joined Young Life staff, a local pastor invited him to a small group made up of local ministry leaders and pastors.

In it, he learned directly from some of the best Christian leaders in his community.

10. Audience awareness

You can’t talk to kids the same way you talk to parents. And you can’t talk to parents the same way you talk to kids. As a youth pastor, you have to be fluent in kid-speak while still being capable of carrying out grown-up conversations with an adult.

To kids, it’s a big deal when an adult learns how to speak their language. The petri-dish of high school and junior high can produce bizarre and fascinating lingo. Understanding that lingo can open doors to more important conversations and ministry opportunities you might not get otherwise.

On the flipside, parents want to know they’re entrusting their kids to a safe, mature adult. Church members want to know their tithes are being used responsibly. Staff want to know that your ministry is still all about Jesus.

Your energy and sense of humor don’t need to have an on-off switch, but you do need be well-attuned to the art of dancing between the world of kids and the world of adults.

You’re re-entering adolescence without re-becoming an adolescent.

What other qualities do youth pastors need?

Are there any other qualities that have helped you succeed as a youth pastor? Or characteristics that your church is looking for? Maybe you have a great story of some unreasonable expectations you’ve run into. Tell us in the comments!

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Youth Group Lesson on Leadership

For Youth Leaders And Their Youth Groups


Bible: Daniel 1

Bottom Line: God’s idea of leadership is very different from the world’s idea of leadership.

OPENING GAME – Lego Battle


3 Lego Sets (try to find sets that could be complicated but doable in about 15 minutes)


Divide the group into 3 teams.

Give each team a Lego set.

Your challenge is to put this Lego set together in the shortest amount of time.

Everyone must participate and no pieces can be left the Lego creation.

Give the teams time to complete the structure and then have a fun Lego judging time. 

Adult leader Tips: 

Observe how teams work together as they build.

Resist the urge to step in to help the groups and remind any adult leaders to also resist intervening.

Give the groups time to struggle (if needed) and watch for leaders and also quiet leaders.

Keep watch for youth who show leadership skills and note how they get the others on their team to participate.

Watch to see which youth stay to the end to help and clean.

Display the completed sets and have a completion ‘ceremony’.


In your group talk about these questions:

How did we work together as a team?

What different roles did people on the team seem to take?

Who was a vocal leader?

Who followed directions?

What was the most challenging part of this task?

What would you do differently next time?

TEACH – Leadership

The world is looking for leaders.

What are the qualities that you think great leaders possess?

Name some great leaders.

What made or makes them great leaders?

Write down their answers for the group to see. 

Share observations that you made as your watched the teams try to put together their lego sets. 

Try not to single anyone out, but be sure to note if obvious leaders emerged and help the group to reflect on how this happened?

Were there any leaders that seemed to emerge in this activity?

How did they lead you?

Activities this are very interesting because you notice that people seem to take on different roles.

There are those who are very vocal and loud.

But there are also quiet leaders.

The ones who might not say much, but will be the last one there finishing the job.

Did you notice, because I did, the ones who stayed to help clean up after the rest of the group left?


Leadership is a skill that the world really does value.

Yet, the way that the world defines a leader can be very different from the way that God defines a leader.

The world says that to be a leader, you have to be first and the best.

And that sometimes to ‘get to the top’ you have to do things that might go against your conscience.

What are some other ways that you see that the world defines leadership?

Today, the world is looking for leaders.

But more importantly, God is looking for leaders.

Leaders who don’t lead the world might expect.

We are going to read about some young leaders in the Bible.

They faced major challenges and made some major decisions.

And they had to go against the flow in some amazing ways.

Read Daniel 1. 

Daniel and his friends were the best of the best from Israelite families and now they were in a foreign land.

They had been chosen to join this 3 year ‘training’ and to eventually be in the king’s service.

Yet, Daniel seemed to be very clear about who and whose he was.

He belonged to God.

What were some of the decisions that Daniel and his friends made?

Why do you think that it was important for them to take these stands?

Daniel was young, and yet he knew that he was different.

In a good way.

In a “God way”.

And Daniel wanted it to be obvious that it was God that set him and the others apart.

They didn’t eat what everyone else ate.

The Bible says that he didn’t want to be ‘defiled’ by what the king was eating.

Daniel had the courage to stand up and challenge the leaders.

Daniel belonged to God and he wanted that to be obvious.

And God gave Daniel understanding and knowledge.

Think about people at your school.

Who are the leaders?

And I’m not talking about the people who THINK that they are leaders, but the people that others listen to.

Are they positive leaders?

Why are they leaders?

Why do others listen to them?

These are really important questions that sometimes we don’t take the time to ask, right?

Now, imagine that Daniel were to come to your school and live out a similar challenge?

What would people think about him?

Would you have the strength to join him?

Maybe it wouldn’t be that Daniel only ate vegetables or refused the food from the ‘king’s table’, but think in modern terms, what might Daniel refuse to do?

Would he hang out with your friends?

Tell the same jokes?

Listen to your music?

Go to the same places on the weekend?

Or would he refuse to do those things because they were going to weaken him?

See, what Daniel and his friends knew was that they couldn’t be everyone else.

They were different.

They led.

Today as we watch the news and everything seems to be about choosing a leader, these are important questions to consider.

What makes a great leader?

What makes people follow that leader?

And how can you become the kind of leader God wants?

Imagine that you decide to make the commitments Daniel made.

You have choices that you must make about what you eat, wear, and do.

Do those things make a difference?

To Daniel they did because they said something about who he was.

It was about identity for Daniel and the choices he made were very purposeful.

He wanted everyone in Babylon to know that He belonged to God.

And God blessed Daniel and his friends.

God is looking for “Daniels” today.

Young leaders who are not afraid to be different, but in a good way.

Leaders who don’t just go along with the crowd.

Leaders who won’t compromise who they are to ‘fit in’.

Ask yourself this: In what ways are you tempted to just fit in?

Why not take a stand and decided to stand out?

Make a conscious decision about what you put in your body, what you do with your time, what you watch, or how you speak.

Imagine if Daniel had or Instagram: What would his feed look ?

Now ask yourself this question:  when others look at you, do they see a leader or someone trying to fit in?

It is a very tough question, but one that I want you to consider very honestly.

Who are you living to please?

God or everyone else?

What changes do you need to make starting today to be the kind of leader God wants you to be?

Because Daniel didn’t wait until he was ‘older’, but knew that God was calling him even as a young man to be different.

And God is calling you to the same.

Pray and ask God what things you need to ‘not defile’ yourself with and how you could live as Daniel lived.

Close in prayer.


Who would you consider to be some of the greatest leaders and why?

In what ways are youth today challenged to ‘fit in’?

What are some things that you thought of today that you could give up in order to be Daniel?

How could you be a leader at your school?  In your youth group?  With your friends?

What is holding you back from really being a leader?


d this lesson? You’ll also this…

Youth Group Lesson on Integrity

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Developing an Effective Youth Leadership Team

For Youth Leaders And Their Youth Groups

Sharon Veltema on how to develop a youth leadership team as one way to involve youth in worship.

Young people who are involved in worship, whether corporate church worship, a youth worship service, or a Christian high school chapel, are developing spiritual leadership abilities. . But youth leaders and worship coordinators are often at a loss for how to involve youth in worship.

In order to involve youth effectively, it is advantageous to develop a leadership team made up of a small group of teen leaders.

This leadership team can consist of ten or twelve young people for a large youth group or school setting, or it can be a smaller group of four or five teens.  No matter the size, this leadership team can provide valuable insight and feedback to adult youth leaders.

, and it can be resourceful in planning worship, generating ideas for worship, and encouraging other teens to be involved in worship.

It’s wise to comprise the spiritual leadership team of teens who are older in the overall group.

While age does not necessarily translate to spiritual growth, choosing older teens will enable the group to be more effective in leading the entire student body or youth group.

This will also give the younger members something to look forward to – the opportunity to help lead the overall group spiritually.

The best insight into the mind and thinking of a teen comes directly from teens themselves.

Developing a spiritual leadership team of young people provides a perfect opportunity for adult youth leaders to interact with these teens on a personal level and receive critical insights that will generally reflect the whole group.

A youth leader or teacher can develop group dynamics that will facilitate honesty in the leadership group. As the group grows closer to each other and deeper in faith, an excitement often develops that will translate to the entire youth group or student population.

Developing the Team

The spiritual leadership team can also be instrumental in getting many teens involved in worship.

While the adult leader or teacher can and should encourage many young people to be involved in worship, it’s also helpful to have peers encouraging each other to be involved.

If possible, have a variety of social groups represented on the spiritual leadership team, so that more of the teen population of the youth group or school will be able to relate to and interact with members of the team.


It is important to provide clear objectives for the leadership team. It is vital to the team’s ability to function well. If the young people who are on the leadership team understand their purpose and are regularly reminded of the team’s purpose, the group will function more effectively. The following list outlines six basic objectives for a spiritual leadership team.

  1. Promote spiritual growth in the youth group or school
  2. Learn more about worship and the purpose of worship
  3. Assist in planning and developing meaningful worship in the youth group, in church, or in the school’s chapel
  4. Help recruit and work with other teens to lead chapel
  5. Pray regularly for each other, fellow teens, the community, and the world
  6. Spend time reading and studying the Bible individually and together


It is equally important to have individual expectations of the team members. Teens who are held to high standards for being on the team will understand the importance of their participation. Expectations can include the following:

  1. Have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
  2. Reveal a lifestyle consistent with their faith
  3. Demonstrate the ability to work well with others
  4. Be willing to learn about and plan worship
  5. Show a desire to grow in faith

Although it is not necessary to lead worship up front, a willingness to lead worship is helpful and can be added to the list of expectations.


When starting a leadership team for the first time, it may be necessary to recruit by approaching young people with the idea of being a part of the team. It’s important to explain what is expected from the spiritual leadership team.

It may be helpful to explain to the young person that he or she has shown spiritual maturity and leadership qualities that would benefit the team and also be instrumental in encouraging the spiritual life of their peers in church or school.

Encourage the teen to prayerfully consider being a part of the spiritual leadership team. After the leadership team is in place for several years, young people in the school or youth group will have a better understanding of the team and its expectations.  It’s also good to have an application process for the committee.

Young people who fill out an application will understand the importance of being on the leadership team, and it will help them evaluate whether or not they want to be on the team.

Consider an application process containing the following:

  1. Give a brief statement about your relationship with the Lord.
  2. Why do you want to be a spiritual team leader?
  3. List one or more of your leadership strengths and weaknesses.
  4. In what areas have you been involved in the church, youth group, or school?
  5. Are you willing to commit to meeting regularly with the leadership team?

Although the answer to the final question is a simple yes or no, young people who are on the leadership team need to know that it is a commitment and responsibility that should be taken seriously.

Going Forward

After a team is formed, determine how often the group will meet. In a Christian high school, meeting daily is a good way to grow together, learn about worship together, and put together meaningful worship for the school. If daily is not possible, make every effort to meet at least twice during the week. A church youth leadership team should be willing to meet weekly or bi-weekly.

The next step towards an effective spiritual leadership team will be learning to pray together, read the Bible together, understand and learn about worship, brainstorm ideas for worship, and engage in evaluating the objectives of the group. The article “The Leadership Team is Assembled – Now What?” provides ideas for effective group meetings that work toward the team’s objectives.

A leadership team comprised of young people can be a very powerful tool for a youth leader, providing feedback and ideas that are reflective of the entire youth group or school. It is the first step to building a framework in which young people can be a part of worship and have a voice in the worshiping community.

In Summary:

  1. Developing a youth leadership team helps involve young people in worship.
  2. The leadership team should have objectives and expectations for those involved.
  3. An application process can be useful for potential team members.

Related Articles:

Teens, Worship, and Faith Formation
The Leadership Team is Assembled – Now What?
Teaching young people about worship


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