Over the past few days I have had the privilege of spending time with student ministers on the Great Escape Student Ministers’ Cruise. The conference/cruise is an event produced by DiscipleGuide, the ministry I have the privilege of leading. This year’s conference speaker has been Ed Stetzer, head of research for Lifeway. Here are a few takeaways from the week:

1)   Student ministers come from different backgrounds, church structures, and ministry philosophies. Yet, whether fulltime, bi-vocational, volunteer, seminary trained, learning “on the job,” experienced, inexperienced, young, or old; they all love Christ and love students.

2)   Being a “cool,” “young,” “hipster” minister doesn’t hold a candle to being available and caring. Relationships trump cool.

3)   Any good student minister realizes that student ministry includes investing in the parent-child relationships. Student ministry must endorse, respect, and promote biblical parental authority –not usurp or replace it.

4)   Effective student ministries partner with parents to help students become life-long learners of Christ. If students never learn to grow in the Word and by the Spirit (as opposed to ‘borrowing’ mom and dad’s faith), they will be like a young adult who never learned to walk, read, or reason during their formative years at home. Once they leave the protection of home and church to enter “the real world,” they will have great difficulty standing on their own.

5)   Great churches embrace the student ministry and include it in the overall scope of the congregation’s mission rather than relegating it to a “ministry island.”

After spending a week with 45 student ministers and their spouses, I am excited about what God is doing in churches across America. I have been blessed to listen to conversations between those on the “front lines” who are comparing notes and sharing experiences of helping students and parents grow as disciples of Christ.

If you are a student minister and would like more information on next year’s Great Escape Student Ministers’ Cruise, check out discipleguide.org or call 1-800-333-1442. Also, be sure to check out DiscipleGuide’s summer SOAR student conference for 7th-12th graders.