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youth ministry, youth worker

A Deep Look at Missions Trips

By Doug Franklin May 30, 2012

I have been to many mission sites where I had the chance to watch a good team have a positive missions experience. The students loved the kids at VBS and were willing to do anything asked of them. Everything about the trip looked good. The youth pastor was happy, adult staff felt purposeful. On the surface the trip looked great.


But something didn’t feel right.


Even though students were friends I often don’t see them truly care about each other, and I seldom see a deep desire for Jesus Christ. I never see youth leaders challenge students on either of these issues. Students never see the problems in their group or a lack of desire because no one had taken the time to challenge them on how they lived their lives.


Good kids. No vision. No courage.


I often observe youth groups and how their leaders operate. The number one problem I see is that most youth leaders are willing to settle for good. If their students are good and things go well, then why mess with it? But the Kingdom of God doesn’t need good students, it needs great ones. Ask yourself these questions: What actions have I taken in the past month to move my good students to great ones? How many students have I confronted about trouble in their lives? How many students have I told all the good things I see in their lives and how they can use those gifts to do more in the Kingdom? Do my students know I have a vision for their lives and what it is?


Work Hard

The work of making great students starts with hard work. We youth leaders need to work harder and spend more time casting a vision for students’ lives. We need to tell them what we see in them and what we see God doing in them. We need to be willing to be the bad guy. Never be afraid to tell students they are not living to their potential, if you don’t then who will? Telling students the truth is the start of making them great. Raising the bar of expectation for yourself and your students will put you on the path to greatness.


Challenge is the one great tools that God has given us to help students mature in their faith. If you are not challenging your students you are failing them. I have never seen a great youth ministry where students are not being challenged. To shape and mold a students you need to place them on the anvil and pound their lives out. The Bible has a word for it: discipleship.


The Plan

Do you and or your youth staff have a plan for each student in your ministry? The truth is that having great events won’t make great students. To have great students you must cast a vision for each student that will lead him or her to maturity in Christ. Do you know the next step your students need to take to make it to the next level with Christ? If you don’t, prepare a plan so the next time you talk with a student in your group you will know how to challenge him.


Developing great students is never easy but I believe it’s our calling by God. Be honest with yourself–are your students good or are they great? Be committed to developing great students. Be focused on producing the next great generation for the Kingdom of God.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More