Starting Point for Your Work in Student Ministry

Whether you are newly starting in Student Ministry, beginning at a new church, or working to launch a youth ministry in your church, here are some important considerations for long-term success.

Personal Growth

Leading Student Ministry isn’t just a matter of leading Bible studies or planning events. Ministry leaders must first be committed disciples of Jesus Christ. Discipling students flows out of our ongoing relationship with the Lord. Ministry leaders must give carful attention to our character and habits, our daily discipleship practices such as prayer and Bible study, and faithfulness and focus to the mission.

Mission and Values

The mission and values of your church and student ministry will determine what your student ministry is all about. What are the non-negotiables of your ministry and what are the variable parts of your ministry. What is the mission and purpose of your student ministry. How would you define the mission in a single sentence? What are the 5-7 most important values of your student ministry? Taking time to work with your leadership team and to formulate mission and values statements will guide you for years to come and are worth the effort. If your church already has these statements formulated, think through how they apply specifically to your student ministry.

 Vision and Goals

Vision grows out of your mission and values. What do you see as the end product of your work student ministry? A vision statement should paint a picture of what it would look like if your ministry excelled at completing its mission in 5-10 years. A vision statement will help capture your heart and renew your passion on days where the work seems like a drudgery.

It is also important to take specific steps toward fulfilling your vision. Work with your ministry team to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals. Setting goals and working toward them will help your ministry move forward month by month and year by year. Remember to regularly come back to your goals to evaluate your progress and to set new goals.

Policy and Procedures

Policies and procedures provide both protection and clarity in your ministry. Policies should cover such things at safety and security, mandated reporter practices, group travel practices, volunteer expectations, and much else. Enlist at team to think through these issues together. Contact other churches and IBSA for assistance and templates. Make sure your policies and procedures fit your church’s ministry environment and setting.

Calendar & Schedule

Every ministry will have a calendar and schedule of events. Work with leaders to set this calendar each year. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan things and many activities require advanced planning to do well. Planning in advance will also take the pressure from you to continually come up with the next thing. You should plan not just activities, but also what lessons and studies you will lead your student ministry through.

Programing and Events

As you plan, consider the types of activities you will schedule. What activities will address things such as worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, and evangelism/missions? Think through things like large and small groups, camp, youth retreats, corporate worship, mission trips, fun activities, evangelistic opportunities, retreats, etc. Look at the schedule of student-related activities available from IBSA and explore how these fit into your ministry.


As you plan, consider your budget as well. What will realistically cost to do what you have planned? Your church may have already set a budget for your ministry. Be ready to present your budget recommendations to your church in its budgeting process. Remember to include things like curriculum, supplies, scholarships, subscription fees, conferences, leadership development, etc.

Developing Leaders

Every student ministry needs leaders and volunteers. But leaders don’t just appear, they have to be developed. As you begin your ministry, you may have some who are already invested or involved in the ministry. Work to develop healthy relationships with them and invest in them. You should plan regular training and discipling opportunities with them.  

Always keep an eye out for others within your church that you can develop. You will want volunteers that are not just “a warm body in the room” or simply a “chaperone,” but leaders who can disciple your students. A key focus of your ministry will be recruiting, training, and mentoring leaders. Your investment in leaders is an investment in your students.

All leaders should be vetted according to your church’s policies.


Through your church’s connection to IBSA you have access to a wealth of resources. This includes seasonal events such as:

  • Summer Camps at both Streator Baptist Camp and Lake Sallateeka.
  • Super Summer hosted at Hannibal-LaGrange University and emphasizes leadership and skill development in discipleship, worship, and missions.
  • DNow and Youth Retreat events
  • Youth Encounter – a yearly youth evangelism event
  • AWSOM – a discipleship and growth experience geared toward female students and leaders.

In addition to these seasonal offerings, IBSA offers numerous Bible studies and books through our lending library. We also offer one-on-one ministry consultations by phone, video conference, or in person as needed. Take advantage of these resources as you begin and build your church’s student ministry.

As you begin your ministry, remember that you are not alone! Your network of churches and IBSA are here to equip and support you in any way that we can.



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