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Youth ministry, student ministry, youth group, youth pastor, student leadership

Flipping the Switch from Learning to Leading

By Doug Franklin August 4, 2014

As youth workers, we want to see our students grow as leaders. To do that, we think we need a student leadership team. Even more so, we want to see students start to own the mission of Jesus Christ, to internalize and live out their belief that Jesus Christ is Lord. Unfortunately, most churches think student ministry is about dumping biblical knowledge into students, then flipping the switch from learning to leading—from taking in knowledge to reaching out to their world.

The truth is, that switch is more of a dimmer. Students learn by doing, and they shouldn’t stop learning once they start taking charge. God continues to work in our students every day. So the ministry we do now involves building students up, but it also involves helping them lead the mission. If we don’t do both, we’re setting students up for disaster. If students are never given the opportunity to practice leading, do we believe they’ll somehow flip that switch on in college? We know that’s not working. Statistics tell us that by the age of 29 only 20 percent of students will still be going to church.

This is very delicate work. Allowing students to lead the mission doesn’t mean giving them the wheel, putting on a helmet, and hoping for the best as they stomp on the pedal. Not all students are the same. Some students are ready to take on the leadership of the mission that Jesus gave them right now. Others are still learning to walk in his ways. We must take care not to flip the switch too soon for those students. This calls for customized leadership development. One size does not fit all. So let’s help students flip the switch, slowly and deliberately, with their unique personalities and journeys in mind.

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