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The average tenure for teachers of the eighth-grade boys Sunday School class was two to four months. I don’t think the boys actually conspired together, contriving evil plots for the teacher’s demise. They did however possess a ‘pack instinct’ when they smelled the fresh blood of a rookie.

I learned this information after I agreed to take the class. I was a High School Senior, it was my first time teaching a class and I was given a curriculum on the book of Revelation. All of this added up to the perfect equation for failure.

My first Sunday looked a little like a food fight in a school cafeteria, only we did not have food. I realized immediately I had to have a strategy. Along the way, I have learned some valuable lessons either on my own or in conversation with other leaders.

Here are seven strategic steps to change student ministry, one student at a time:

  1. Identify potential spiritual leaders – Determine who can lead from the “ranks” and meet with them one-on-one. As you build into their lives personally, ask them to step up and lead. If you can get students to help with leadership, you can change the dynamic of the meeting.
  2. Invest time in every individual – In order to minister effectively to a group of students, you have to know the individuals. If your group is too large for you to meet with each person effectively, then solicit leadership to aid in this process. Remember, personal time investment in every individual is your goal.
  3. Take time to listen Spend time asking questions, discovering needs, desires, pressures, problems, etc.
  4. Develop a specific agenda – There are specific topics which are non-negotiable. For example: the Gospel, personal holiness, spiritual habits and character should be covered with everyone.
  5. Allow flexibility in your agenda – You must meet the students where they live and move them forward. Your first priority is to communicate the Gospel. Once you know about their faith, then begin crafting an individualized discipleship plan.
  6. Share from the reality of your own life – It is imperative that students see the reality of your faith. Students will not follow what they perceive to be fake. You do not have to be a Super-Christian, just one with a real faith.
  7. Make the scriptures your foundation – Establish your life and ministry on the Word. Read, teach, and memorize it. Make the scriptures the DNA of your student ministry.

BTW…I survived the eighth-grade class. It actually grew and we made our way through the book of Revelation. Several of the students trusted Christ and others moved forward in their faith. Perhaps the person who benefited the most was me. I needed the challenge of communicating the scriptures to the unwilling.

This was a great awakening for me because I learned a great truth — being involved in individual lives enhances our corporate   communication of the truth.

What are some of the lessons you have learned?

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