The Art of Influence in Student Ministry

Guest Post by Ben Birdsong

Think back to the beginning- not THE beginning in Genesis 1, but the beginning of your journey in student ministry. At some point, you received a call from God to come and join Him as He works in the world. It was a call to change the world…to make an impact! Yet so often, as those who invest our lives in students, we realize that changing the world and youth ministry are not really as glamorous as the screenplay running through our dreams.

Your impact and ministry are greater than you realize. However, as leaders of students, we frequently get lost in the small stuff and miss the bigger impact that we have on our students. Our ministry is built around a central idea – influence. In each platform our students give us in their lives, we are called to lead, direct, coach, mentor, cheerlead, and encourage them to someone who is greater than us – Jesus.

A quick Google search defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.” I love this definition, because that is what we are hoping to see in the students that we lead. We want to see them grow in character to become someone who reflects Jesus. We want to watch them develop, and become people who faithfully follow Jesus. We want to see their behavior change so that others can see the Holy Spirit at work in their lives. By definition, a student minister is simply an influencer.

As an adult that has been given the open door to speak into the lives of students, you have the opportunity for an eternal impact. Our influence must consistently point our students to Jesus, because He is the only One who can truly discern the many competing influences in the lives of our students. As we allow our voice to point to the grand Storyteller’s greater story, we get to stand back and see the compelling screenplay that God is writing with the lives of our students. And one day, we may even see how our small part truly shifted the narrative for Jesus and His fame.

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Ben Birdsong serves as the Minister of Students at Meadow Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He holds degrees in Marketing and Human Resource Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a Masters of Divinity degree from Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, and is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Ben has served with Student Life, Inc. and First Priority of Alabama. He loves to minister to students and challenge them to become campus missionaries and to live out their faith. Ben is married to Liz, who is a middle school English teacher. He enjoys movies, reading, coffee shops, and blogging at http://www.benbirdsong.com