In addition to requiring student leaders to read and blog, another way I train and equip students for leadership and in particular, for creating a culture of welcome is by conducting frequent evaluations of each week's youth ministry programs.
Frequent evaluations give student leaders the opportunity to slow down and reflect. Doing so teaches teens to notice God. Evaluations also keep teens from becoming complacent in their roles. They challenge teens to think about how they can be better servants and leaders, something that, in turn, fuels growth. What's more, frequent evaluations keep teens humble. They help teens to approach their roles as student leaders with a posture of learning that says “How can we do this better?” rather than settle for that's “good enough” or the way we've always done it. In that way, evaluations actually invite teens to dream and to try new things - even if they fail.
Despite the benefit of frequent evaluations, evaluations can definitely be tricky. You want people to authentically express their feelings and give honest feedback. At the same time, you don't want anyone to leave feeling beat up, or like the thing they poured their heart and soul into didn't matter.
To that end, it's important to establish a culture ripe for evaluations from day one. To do this, create and reiterate a few ground rules each time you evaluate. My team's ground rules include: