There are typically three ways to choose your youth ministry's student leaders.
1. Vote. Similar to student council elections at school, peers elect those teens they want to be student leaders.
2. Select. The youth pastor or a team of people selects who they want to be student leaders and specifically asks those teens to serve in this role.
3. Apply. Applications are made available to everyone. Teens then complete an application. The youth pastor or a team of people then selects student leaders from that pool of applicants.
I've learned the hard way to avoid options 1 and 2. Here's why.
Too often, using a peer vote to select your ministry's student leaders leads to a popularity contest. As a result, you often end up with only one type of teen on your leadership team – extroverted cool kids. When this happens, leadership teams often become a clique unaware and unconcerned with those who aren't their friends. This leaves teens in your ministry who don't consider themselves extroverted or cool questioning whether or not they belong.
The opposite end of that spectrum – where youth pastors select their student leaders – is also flawed. As with peer votes, when youth pastors select their student leaders, they often end up with only one type of teen on their leadership team: Those who think and act like them. This not only leads to leadership team cliques but it also has the potential to turn into a personality cult – with you at the center of it. Additionally, it leads to the perception of favoritism. Those who aren't student leaders assume that your favorite teens are those who are. This, in turn, can make teens who aren't on your leadership team feel isolated or marginalized.
Because of those pitfalls, I use applications to select my student leaders.