At the beginning of May, I attended the Student Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Community Church, in South Barrington, IL. My interest in this event was heightened for a few reasons. First, I grew up attending this church, it is home to me. Second, a few of my close friends and young women I have mentored through their high school years were the ones that planned it. Last, student leadership training in the church seems rare to me, and I wanted to see what it was all about.
This event was put on completely by students. The students in Willow’s high school ministry, Student Impact, planned and excited this event because of their pure passion to learn and grow together. One of the students that helped plan the event and was one of the MC’s for the summit, Cambria Khayat, said, “students are the future, we’re the upcoming generation and so if we’re able to invest in them and make them better it’s going to eventually have long-term effects in a positive way”.
This event was very unique. It was held at the church and the students chose to show video clips from past speakers at the Global Leadership Summit that the Willow Creek Association puts on each year. In between these video clips that gave a small lesson on leadership, the students gave the crowd a few discussion questions to ponder with the people near them. It was interesting and inspiring to see these students lead groups around them and discuss some serious topics. Their thoughts and voices are valid and this gave them a safe place to share those ideas with each other.
These students are onto something spectacular. If a group of students can put something like this together at one church, students at other churches can do the same. Engaging in conversation about leadership and faith is key to growing and learning together. What if the church was a place that truly fostered those relationships and spaces? How can your church create a place for the students to discuss their ideas and learn from one another?