youth worker, youth ministry, challenge


By Doug Franklin November 3, 2009

Just got through skimming Youth Worker Journal and Chap Clark’s Page One has got me mad again. I see the youth ministry world very differently than this guy. I just don’t understand the thinking that comes from this magazine. In this introduction to the theme of the magazine Chap Clark starts by saying that youth workers have long stressed “student leadership” in developing students capacity for ministry, mission and service. So not true; I have been leading LeaderTreks since 1994 and up until 5 years ago I couldn’t get many youth pastors to even talk about developing students leaders. While he may be wrong about the time frame for leadership development, he was right when he said that developing students as leaders will grow their “capacity for ministry, mission and service.” Chap Clark goes on to make a point that really gets me mad. He says “Veteran youth workers overwhelmingly agree the game has changed. For the most part, today kids are less reliable and more “flakey” than kids of even 10 years ago.” He then goes on later in the article and says “We need to think differently about student leadership and mission. Do we have the courage to look deeply at our kids and do the work required to create systems and strategies to foster spiritual maturity (without expecting or demanding a maturity beyond their ability to demonstrate)?” My question is do we have the courage to look deeply at ourselves and realize we are the reason students are not maturing and make changes in how we do ministry? The reason students’ development is behind is us; we stop challenging students by thinking it was too much for them and we did not expect or demand anything from them, and now their spiritual development is stunted. Chap Clark has a self fulfilling prophecy on his hands. I work with students everyday from the intercity, rural and suburban neighborhoods, and they are all pretty much respond the same when it comes to challenge. If the challenge engages their heart they’ll face the challenge and work hard to overcome it and grow. But if the challenge is not there they will go back to playing video games. By challenging our students to a deeper walk, we are setting them up for a more fulfilling life and ministry with Christ. By not challenging we are giving up on them.

I think Chap Clark is a guy who cares deeply about youth ministry; we just happen to disagree on how it’s led.

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