How we lead students: Know | Show | Grow

All of our student ministry leaders across the board should be using the know, show, grow method. These three steps, though simple in theory, are hard work. However, any leader who makes these three steps a priority will be more effective in reaching students & helping students take next steps.  

Know | Know your student.

The first step for any student leader is to get to know the students. Really get to know them. Don’t make the mistake of taking this step lightly. Getting to know students does two things: 

First, it allows them to know that you value them as a person. Most people, adolescents in particular, only engage when they know someone cares about them.

Second, it helps you understand how to guide them more effectively. Think about it: how can you grow someone you don’t even know? 

Ask yourself these questions: What is the name of each student in my group? What is their family like? Where do they go to school/work? What are their struggles? What makes them excited? Why do they even choose to be a part of North Terrace? Where are they with God? 

Building relationships is a process, and getting to know someone is the first step. The leader who skips this step or treats it lightly will likely feel distant from & ineffective in leading their group.  

Show | Show love & show up.

The next step to growing your students is showing that you genuinely care in ways that are meaningful to them. Key word: them. We need to speak their language. How do you do that? Two simple ways: 

  • Show Love: Encouraging words, text messages, social media, cards, letters or phone calls (even leaving a voice message) shows them you were thinking about them. Create a special handshake. Give them an encouraging nickname. Intentional loving words and actions may impact students lives in ways you never thought possible. Make the most of every opportunity. 
  • Show up (at a minimum of once per semester): If your student is an athlete, catch one of their games. If your student is in theater, show up at their play. If they are in band, choir or dance, then attend a concert. Maybe your student likes coffee or tacos. You could meet up with them at a local coffee spot or restaurant. If they invite you to a birthday, graduation or other event, try to make it.  There are lots of ways to SHOW your student you care, but the key is to do something with them outside of regular group time, to get involved in their life outside of church. You’ll find that intentional effort with this step reaps major rewards (see John. 1:34-35).

WARNING: Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that leaders who do this stuff are going above and beyond the call of duty. Showing up is a necessary & essential step in the process.

Grow | Lead your student through next steps. 

The reason we do everything we do is to reach students for Jesus and help them grow in their relationships with God. It’s the goal we are always working toward. So why is it that this step can be so intimidating? The truth is, many of us feel inadequate. We ask ourselves, “What if I say the wrong thing?” “Do I know of the bible enough?” “What if I make a mistake?” “What if I don’t know the answers to the questions?” Those fears (and the recognition of our personal inconsistencies and struggles) can leave us paralyzed. In order to be an effective leader, you must accept that (1) you will mess up and (2) there will be times when you don’t know the answer. And that is okay! Your honesty and authenticity will benefit students more than you could ever know. Grow alongside your students.

You don’t carry all the weight on your shoulders. You can’t solve all of their problems or answer all of their questions. Your job is to know them, love them, be present, and challenge them to grow. 

So what does growth look like? It looks like taking next steps toward the immeasurably more.  

Ask yourself the question: Which of the Steps Toward One More for NT Students does my student need to take next? 

Click here for "How to Lead Students Through Next Steps."