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Do you remember the fun Sunday School children’s song based on Matthew 7:24-27? Here are a couple of the condensed verses:

The wise man built his house upon the rock. (repeat multiple times)

The rain came down and the floods came up. (repeat multiple times)

And the house on the rock stood firm!

The foolish man built his house upon the sand. (repeat multiple times)

The rains came down and the floods came up, (repeat multiple times)

And the house on the sand went splat!

I wonder why we are so enthusiastic about singing this song with children yet often fail to extract the principle of the song when it comes to student ministry. Should we not put at least the same amount of energy into defining the values of our student ministries as we do into the motions of a children’s song?

Perhaps just as music serves as a guide for us as we all sing together, we need some guidelines for establishing ministry values. Where do we begin? What should be the foundation? Do the values shift over time or are they constant? If you find yourself asking these questions then you are in good company, as they are common questions among youth leaders.

As I interact with student leaders I offer the following five guidelines for Establishing Value-Centered Student Ministries.

  1. Establish your own personal biblical values first. Leaders lead from the front; they don’t just point the way or talk about what they read in a book.
  2. Live what you say you believe. You do not have to be perfect or have every discipline “nailed down” but at least be actively engaged in the things you are pushing.
  3. Create a climate where “being” is more important than “doing.” Building lives and ministries from the inside out will produce sustainable long-term effects.
  4. Organize a support system. This system should include both leader on student and peer on peer accountability components.
  5. Teach the truth of the Word. I know this sounds like a “no-brainer,” but in order to keep the Value-Centered ministry growing there must be strong Bible teaching to feed the students and leaders.

The basic decision we need to make about Value-Centered Student Ministry is clearly defined in the children’s song referenced earlier. Will we build on the sand or the rock?


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