Imagine for a moment having an army of student pastors in your ministry. I am not speaking of having a bunch of people on staff with you in your ministry. Imagine being able to lighten your load and put some of your responsibilities on others. Imagine how many more students could be reached if you had these extra hands and feet that you could send out to go and implement the vision you have for your ministry and your community. It would not only lower your stress levels and increase the impact that you are having on the community around you, but it would also allow you to have more time to do the more important things like spend time with your family. Well this is possible, even if you are in the smallest church with the smallest of budgets. How? Simply by training and empowering your leaders to reach those around you and take more responsibility in your ministry. This may be a scary proposition for some of you who enjoy having your hands on everything but imagine the possibilities this would open up.
But it does not only help you, it helps them. Your leaders want to be called to something. People do not want to give up their time and not accomplish anything. So by you telling them that their small group is their own little student ministry that they can do missions with and disciple, they will feel more challenged and I believe they will rise to that challenge. Therefore they will work harder and it will be easier to recruit and retain leaders. I know many times we think we should make it as easy as possible on people so we think we are doing them a favor by not giving them too much responsibility, but this actually leaves your leaders feeling like they are not needed or valued.
It is the same thing with your students. They want to do big things and we need to give them that opportunity. Because if we do not the world will and they will eventually take what the world has to offer. So why not let your students serve in your ministry as greeters or even helping with media? Why not let them teach from time to time? This will feel awkward for you as they fumble through things, but their peers will be on the edge of their seats as one of their own tells their story or teaches from the Bible. Why not equip and empower them to go out and be the student pastor on their campus? Because they see 100-5,000 students everyday that you may never see. Besides, part of the process of discipleship is training others to to go out and make disciples.
There are a couple of things to be careful of though. You still need to know what is going on. You need to make sure that everything that is taught lines up with scripture and that everything that is done lines up with the vision you have for the ministry. You also need to make sure your leaders are at least telling you where and when they are going if they do mission projects or trips for fellowships because you are the student pastor so not only will people call you with questions but are also still responsibility and liable for what is going on. The other thing you need to watch out for is making sure that you do not take this philosophy of ministry as a license to do anything. Many student pastors will sit in their offices and not be out building relationships or serving and will merely say "I have empowered my leaders and students to do ministry." This is not a way to get you out of doing ministry but instead a way to expand the ministry that is going on, help others take ownership of their faith, and allow you to make sure that you find a balance in your life so you can stay in the trenches of youth ministry for the long haul.