In addition to requiring student leaders to read, another way I train and equip students for leadership and in particular, for creating a culture of welcome is through blogging. Blogging forces teens to intentionally think about their faith throughout the week. It also gives our team another avenue for communication and a vehicle for working through and making decisions throughout the week.
To be clear, I'm using the word “blogging” loosely. A more accurate description might actually be a discussion forum.
Regardless, to protect teens and make our blog a safe place for them to share, our blog is private – only our team can access it. Student leaders know they're expected to complete the blog – it's one of the things listed in our team covenant. I post blogs early in the week (on Mondays or Tuesdays). Team members can then answer them until Saturday at noon – a deadline that gives me time to pull together their responses for our face-to-face meetings each Sunday.
Each week, I post a blog prompt, typically in the form of 3 questions. I ask one question that has to do with faith formation, one about leadership, and one that is super practical. During the summer, as teens complete their required reading, both the faith formation and leadership questions are typically related to the book we're reading together. I then use teens' answers as a starting point for the week's discussion.
During the school year, faith formation questions might be some of the accountability questions they've designed or they might be related to spiritual goals they've set for themselves. They might also be a follow-up to a discussion we've had either in leadership or in our youth ministry, designed to get student leaders thinking about a particular subject or Scripture passage at a deeper level.