youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, mentoring

Leadership Mentoring

By Doug Franklin October 21, 2010

I have spent the past 20 years thinking about leadership development in the youth ministry context. My thinking has been student leadership teams create the best structure of developing students as leaders. On teams, students must work together, creating natural leadership roles; they must make decisions together, forcing them to come to consensus; and they must learn to care for each other or strife will lead them to failure. These lessons make leadership teams effective, but lately my thinking is starting to change. Don’t get me wrong I still “like” the team idea, but the advantages are beginning to be outweighed by the disadvantages. The disadvantage to teams are: some don’t get accepted, creates idea of “youth pastors favorites,” positional leadership over servant leadership, focus on tasks vs. character, creates another meeting that busy students don’t have time for and some youth workers don’t feel comfortable being the “leadership expert.” All of these disadvantages make me think we need a new additional kind of structure.  This is important: if your student leadership team is working for your youth ministry, keep it going. This new additional idea is for youth groups that can’t make student leadership teams work or are not comfortable with some of the disadvantages.

My new idea is to have one adult mentor paired with one or two students in a specific area of leadership. For example, if a student is interested in leading worship, one adult would engage with the students as a mentor to develop them spiritually and in their leading worship. This adult would start by encouraging the student in leadership, pointing out to them their potential and building a trust relationship. When the time was right the adult would ask the student if they would be willing to start a leadership mentoring relationship. I know this sounds good but there are some disadvantages to this approach. One is, you would need a good number of qualified adults willing to be leadership mentors. It’s hard enough to find small group leaders because it requires a whole new level of maturity and commitment. Transformation happens in small settings and you can’t get much smaller than one-on-one. In the future I will be writing more about this new additional idea and LeaderTreks will provide helpful resources. More to come …..

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