Student Leadership Team Basics: Establishing Spiritual Goals

One of the leadership axioms I adhere to is that leaders cannot take people further than they are themselves. In order for teens to consistently grow in their faith, student leaders must do so too.

To challenge student leaders to grow, ask them to establish spiritual goals. As part of this, talk about how good goals are tangible and measurable so as to allow teens to determine whether or not they've successfully reached them.

After establishing these goal-setting basics, challenge student leaders to set two or three spiritual goals for themselves – things they want to do outside of your youth ministry in order to grow in their faith. Give student leaders a definitive time limit in which to reach their goals. In my ministry, we typically do this twice a year: Once over the summer, when we set goals for September through December and again at the start of the new year, when we set new goals for January through May.

Because the broadness of this task can sometimes be daunting for teens, if you see teens struggling to come up with their spiritual goals, give them additional guidelines. For example: Ask student leaders to make one of their spiritual goals about reading scripture, one about praying, and one about serving.

After giving teens time to think and pray about their spiritual goals, ask them to write them on an index card along with their name. Then invite them to share their goals with one another. As they do, ask student leaders to explain why they chose their goals and how their faith might change if they successfully reach them. Doing so helps leaders articulate why their goals are important and how meeting them will help them grow in their faith.

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Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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