How to start a student ministry from scratch

When I graduated from Bible college in 2007, I went back to my home church to be the student pastor. I had mixed emotions about going back to my home church, but over time it became evident that this was exactly the plan that God had for me. The student ministry was very small. We had not had a full time youth pastor in years, and the youth group had diminished. They really had nothing for the students at all. So, I was called upon to change this, and build a thriving student ministry at the church. We had 3 students in our first youth service. You try speaking to 3 students and no leaders. Yeah, as you can tell, it was extremely difficult to get a ministry off of the ground, but it is possible, and I wanted to share a few thoughts from experience of how to get the thing rolling.

  1. Pray & personal Bible study– Ministry starts with prayer! Let me blunt with you, it is impossible for your ministry to be a success without daily bathing it in prayer. Like it or not, we will create students who will go as far as their leadership go. So, if you are constantly growing in your personal walk, the chances of the students following into this are good. If you are not growing or spending time with Jesus, do not expect your students too.
  2. Develop a purpose statement– This will be the vision and heartbeat of your ministry. Everything that you do should be a reflection of your purpose.
  3. Develop a plan and vision for your ministry– This is where dreams come into play. I think we sometimes are scared to dream big for our ministry, but Jesus wants us to dream big. Read “Sun Stand Still” by Steven Furtick.
  4. Prepare a parent Night– The toughest part of your ministry, but also the most important part of your ministry is ministering to and with the parents of your students. It is vital for you to get them attached to your vision at the beginning. You will be glad you did down the road.
  5. Recruit dedicated leaders– You must invest in leaders. If you have 3 students like I started out with, you must have a couple of leaders to help you grow it. Also, you must share your vision and heart with them. Make sure that they are sold out and desire life change in these students.
  6. Plan a Student Ministry calendar of events– Try and formulate a year calendar if possible. I am a big time scheduling guy. I like to schedule things well in advance, and hate procrastinating. I know, this is not a typical youth pastor’s habits, but this is me. It is important for your parents and students to see the vision being carried out long term. Also, the students get excited about big events down the road, etc. They can then begin inviting their friends.
  7. Create a student service– This is a time for you to teach the students about your vision, desires, goals, and also practical teaching on practical issues that they may face. This is always a time for you to build healthy relationships with your students and leaders. We did ours on Wednesday night! We came together and sang a couple of songs, and I led in a Bible study. I tried to be creative with props and my teaching. I wanted the teens to “get something” every time that they came. I led the music when we began, and it was without instruments, because we had no leaders yet.
  8. Create a small group ministry– Now, you might be thinking, this is what our entire group is at the beginning. Exactly! A small group ministry is extremely interactive and keeps the students accountable. Students thrive in this type of environment more than a teaching environment. Create this type of atmosphere at some point with your students.
  9. Get in the schools– Find creative ways to get your foot in the door in the public and christian schools in your area. This is a way to keep a better relationship with your students as well as meet new students.
  10. Pray some more– Like I said before, prayer starts ministry, and it needs to be the ending as well. Start off your ministry with prayer, and “pray without ceasing” through your ministry.

2 thoughts on “How to start a student ministry from scratch

  1. Great Stuff, I found myself in sort of the same challenge a couple years ago. I’ve seen the group grow from 2-3 to 15. My previous youth group experience was with 70+ kids but I have loved the change to this size. The scheduling thing is one thing I need to work on though. Thank you!

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