7 Elements of Student Ministry Directing by Stacy McVane

Communication and relationships are the most important aspect of any church organization.  Developing great relationships across the entire church staff, and not just within your department is crucial to the vision.  In order to have unity and continue to stick to the vision of Shoreline ChurchUnveiling God’s Love, I must be able to communicate and find some sort of commonality with everybody on staff.  Respecting and adhering to other departments’ processes and systems gives you credibility and opportunity to serve one another.  Developing relationships is always a blast!

I was having a conversation about communication with Joel Maguire, the Men’s Student Life Director of Shoreline’s Leadership College.  He said, “Unvoiced expectations will always equal unmet expectations.”  This is such a true statement.  If it weren’t for the volunteers at Shoreline Church, we wouldn’t have a church.  Volunteers want to know what is expected of them so they can meet and exceed expectations.  People want to be asked to help and serve.  Everybody wants an opportunity to make an impact.

From my perspective, these are some practical elements of directing student ministries from Ji-High to Young Adults:

  1. Be the person who has all the answers to all the questions.  If you don’t have the answer, tell the person you will find out and get back to them.  Make sure you follow through on what you say.  I had four leaders call me about a specific incident.  I let them know I didn’t have an answer because I wasn’t there, but I would get back to them.  I researched, found the answer, and called each one of them back to dialog about the incident.
  2. Work yourself out of a job.  Bring someone with you everywhere you go.  Always be mentoring someone.  Multiply your leadership.  It’s not necessary to be at the Lift Young Adults service on Sunday nights because Nadine Matthews can run it.
  3. Make sure everyone is clear on the vision of the ministry and what the win is.  The win at every Lift service is to have no first time guests sitting alone.  Adrian Cardenas makes sure this happens at our Lift 7th-12th grade service with our Lift Rats (a team of teenagers who love on our guests) and Jenny Heggem makes sure this happens at our Lift 6th-8th grade service.
  4. Plan ahead and be flexible with change.  Always plan, but always be ready to change the plan if asked to.  If my supervisor, Pastor Earl McClellan wants some part of our Lift Young Adults service to change, I make sure to leave enough room for change to happen.  If I have a question, I can always ask after the service.  Take action at the moment and debrief later.
  5. Look for the gifts, talents, and passions of others.  Jessica Worthey is passionate about 6th-8th grade young ladies and I knew she would love to lead a small group of ladies in the home of Grace Wall’s parents.  Jessica loves her small group and the young ladies are learning about relationships and leadership with Jessica.
  6. Learn emotional flexibility.  Be able to pray with someone and comfort them and then move on to tasks related the rest of the service.
  7. Be Prepared and be yourself. This is the best piece of advice I have ever received from my brother-in-law, Pastor Sam Mata. I do my best when I adhere to that advice.

After serving on staff at Shoreline Church for nearly eight years, I’ve had to learn to be confident in who I am.  I am God’s child, made out of His love and grace.  I have a purpose made specifically by God.  If I concentrate on these truths and not on my position, there comes a freedom to rely and depend on God rather than striving to get things done in my own strength.

Your Thoughts?

Stacy McVane is the Executive Director of Lift Student Ministries at Shoreline Church, Austin, TX. You can follow her on Twitter HERE and friend her on Facebook HERE. Visit her website at www.StacyMcVane.com.

17 replies
  1. Hector
    Hector says:

    These essential 7 elements that you apply while serving with the kiddos and the bigger kiddos(young adults)probably came not only because of your knowledge, but more importantly due to the fact that you have that invaluable communication and relationships. So it just goes to show how valued those are. That’s just my opinion.
    THanks for showing me how important that is in my life as well. Proud of you!

  2. Tony Fetchel
    Tony Fetchel says:

    awesome article. #2 is my favorite. Raise up leaders. If you have to do everything and are having to do everything, something is wrong. also, as you raise up young leaders to lead, they will then multiply your efforts and you’ll see far more impact in far more young people in far more places. it’s an honor to watch your ministry and see the Lord continue to do more than imaginable.

    To The Next Generation!!!!

  3. SarahB
    SarahB says:

    You are truly inspiring. I love your matter-of-fact attitude because you are “emotionally flexible” at the same time. It’s your MO to build lasting relationships and to be a great communicator. Thanks for that!

  4. Carrie Patch
    Carrie Patch says:

    Relationships, relationships, relationships…..it’s all about relationships! God made us to be in relationship with Him and others. I was reminded of this last week….As the creator, God created and then saw that “it was good.” But there was one thing he said that was not good….”It is not good for man to be alone.” We can do so much more together moving in the same direction. Thanks for the great article Stacy! Also loved the last point, “Be prepared and Be Yourself”. We do our part, be ourselves and God does the rest. Awesome! Keep up the good work for Jesus Stacy!

  5. Carrie Patch
    Carrie Patch says:

    Relationships, relationships, relationships….it’s all about relationships! I was reminded of this last week: when God created he “saw that it was good.” But there was one thing He said that was not good, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” We can do so much for God as a team moving in the same direction. Great article Stacy! Also liked the last point, “Be prepared and Be yourself.” We do our part and God does the rest. Awesome! Keep up the good work for Jesus!

  6. Julie Hoffman
    Julie Hoffman says:

    Excllant and concise; to-the-point and heart of the matter. Loved it all!! Great job and well said! Keep on keeping on with God’s missions for your life and inspiring others to grow where they are planted and nurturing others to help them grow too.

  7. Joseph M
    Joseph M says:

    Well said, Stacy!! Your article also outlines the biblical truth and the importance of how we are all many parts of the one Body of Christ. Developing and raising up volunteer leaders not only furthers His cause but also strengthens the body as well. To me I’ve found the most challenging and yet rewarding is outlined in point 7. Transparency is absolutely key when it comes to building relationships filled with honesty and integrity. Again… well done!!

  8. David Lawrence
    David Lawrence says:

    So great to see all the comments! Stacy has knocked it out of the park. FYI.. Stacy is planning to be a monthly contributing writer for ImpelMinistry.com. We are looking forward to more of her insights in leadership and ministry!

    God bless,

    David Lawrence
    Lead Editor, ImpelMinistry.com

  9. Donna
    Donna says:

    GREAT tips, relevant ideas, focused article – thanks for sharing it with us! All leaders can walk away with useful tools to incorporate into their leadership roles and impart onto others.

  10. Shanna Offutt
    Shanna Offutt says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight. Always welcomed and appreciated.

    Your encouragments are a bridge. Thank you for being willing to share insights that you recieve from others. Wisdom that keeps on giving! Much appreciated!


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