This summer, my student leaders & I read and discussed the book, Help! I'm a Student Leader by Doug Fields. Using the questions below, we had some incredibly powerful discussions about leadership and faith.
Questions about Ch. 3 of Help! I'm a Student Leader:
1. According to Doug, “leadership requires more than serving – it also requires a right heart.” (43) What does the phrase, “right heart” mean? Why?
2. (In two groups) Group 1: Make a list of characteristics you believe are important for student leaders at your school to have. Group 2: Make a list of characteristics you believe are important for student leaders here in our youth ministry to have.
(a) Share your lists with the other group.
(b) (Ask each group) What would you add to the other group's list?
(c) What's similar / different about being a student leader here in our youth ministry & being a student leader at your school?
(d) In light of this, do you agree or disagree with Doug that “A significant distinction between a student leader at a public school and a Christian student leader is the emphasis on a healthy faith connection with God”? (43) Why?
3. Answer Doug's question on p. 44: If you went away on a long vacation, would you have what it takes to continue growing spiritually without your church's help? Why or why not?
(a) What does it take to continue growing spiritually without your church's help?
(b) Why's it important for you to be able to grow spiritually without the help of our church? Does this mean that our youth ministry is unimportant? Why or why not?
4. Doug claims, “No one cares about my spiritual health as much as I do.” (45) Right now, can you honestly say this is true for you? Why or why not?If not, who do you think cares more about your spiritual health than you?
5. On p. 45, Doug says, “I've watched many student leaders graduate from their faith after they graduate from high school.” What do you think it means to graduate from your faith?
(a) What's kept you from graduating from your faith? (Make a list)
(b) As leaders in our youth ministry, what can we learn from this list?
(c) Be honest: How much danger do you think you're in of graduating from your faith when you graduate high school? Why?
(d) Answer Doug's question: “Why does a spiritual life fall apart when the safety of the youth group is gone?” (52)
6. Doug warns, “Don't confuse passion with feeling.” (46) What do you think he means by this?
(a) Describe a time in your faith when you have not felt close to God. What was that experience like for you?
(b) As a leader, why's it important for you to figure out how to be passionate about God and growing in your faith even during those times when you don't feel close to him?
7. “Right choices are easier to make when you're filling your heart with God's Word.” (49) To you, what does this mean?
(a) As a leader, why's it particularly important for you to make right choices?
(b) Why else is it important to fill your heart with God's Word?
8. (Debate) Group 1: Defend this position: A growing faith is crucial for a growing leader (50). Group 2: Defend this position: It is possible to be an effective, growing leader even if my faith is stagnant. (Give students time to prepare, present, & defend their position.)
9. “While some of your spiritual growth will come as a result of relationships, life experiences, and ministry, there's something rewarding about reading God's word and his living instructions.” Rank these four things from most to least important in terms of how much they've impacted your spiritual growth: Relationships, life experiences, ministry (service / leadership), Scripture. (Make a master list).
(a) Why are each of these areas important?
(b) As you look at this list, overall, which has most profoundly influenced our spiritual growth? Why? Least?
(c) As you look at this list, which do you think happens most naturally / easily? Which do you think takes the most work? Effort?
(d) Why's this important for us to remember as leaders in our youth ministry, especially as we plan various events & topics for our year together?
10. Doug asks, “What is your goal for personal spiritual growth?” (44) What is a goal?
(a) (Individually) Write your name at the top of this index card. Underneath your name, write down three spiritual growth goals you have for this year. Remember: These goals should be specific, measurable, and actionable.
(b) (Everyone Answers) Share some or all of your goals with the group.
(c) What would our youth ministry look like next year if we, as leaders, were to take these goals seriously?