Four Ways to Strengthen Teen Leaders in Your Church


Are there youth in your congregation with leadership potential and gifts? If there are youth in your congregation, that's likely a "yes"! Take a look at these four excellent opportunities to strengthen young leaders:

1. Apply for ELI (Experiential Leadership Institute)
ELI stands for Experiential Leadership Institute, and it's available to rising 11th and 12th graders in your church. The commitment involves two weeks at the beginning of the summer (in 2015 ELI is looking for 100 teens from throughout the North Georgia Conference), and one can lengthen that time to a full 9 week program (for no extra cost). This is a quality leadership training program, and this next summer each ELI applicant accepted into the program will receive a $500 scholarship award toward the $645 cost of the program. So, in addition to making a quality program that much more affordable, ELI participants will have a scholarship award for a selective leadership program to include in their college applications. Go to for more information.

2. Join Conference Retreat Staff
The conference plans and runs various retreats for youth, and for each of these we utilize older youth and adults as staff for these retreats. In March there are four back-to-back weekends where your youth can develop and stretch their leadership as retreat staff. The Spring Confirmation Retreat and the Spiritual Life Retreat weekends are excellent opportunities for youth to direct small groups, direct others in areas of discipleship, and discover God's gifts in leadership. The cost is minimal (cheaper than actually attending the retreat), and youth can sign up to work one or more weekends. Here's the link for more info:

3. Connect Youth With Adult Leadership 
What if you had some leadership training going on right in your congregation? There are adults in your church's leadership who are already gifted to strengthen and guide the ministries. Gather these adults together (or meet with the whole church council) and present to them a vision of the church leaders bringing up older teenagers alongside them in leadership. Help the leaders in your congregation see that you can be a resource for them as they mentor teens toward being a leader in the church. Youth can serve on design teams, planning teams, and in evaluating past events. For example: rather than simply asking youth to help in VBS, why not pair a few teenagers who have VBS experience with those who already design and plan VBS week? The youth can not only discover what it takes to plan events and ministries, but they will also be a great sounding board for bringing other youth into the life of this vital ministry.

4. Start a Ministry Task Force
Consider starting a ministry task force in your community under the leadership of youth AND adults in your church.When we get young people interested in a need in their community and then let them approach it with support amazing things can happen. Gather some of your leadership (youth AND adults - not just adult volunteers, but also other adult leadership in the church) together and ask them to take an hour walking around your community silently, asking God to point to and direct them to needs and issues. Then meet together to talk about what they discovered. Help the group to come up with one need as a focus and form a task force around ways to meet those needs in your community. Help the task force come up with a goal, a plan (with dates), and a list of who's responsible for what. Save the list of needs and come back to it when the first goal is accomplished.

Connect with Sam Halverson of Connectional Ministries