youth ministry, youth worker, safe

Safe is Overrated (part 2)

By Doug Franklin January 30, 2013

Yesterday I posted about how our current emphasis on being safe was actually costing us in terms of helping our students be risk takers. We all want students to be safe but we also want students to be bold in their faith and willing to go where God calls them. Our Christian culture tells students that being comfortable is a desired lifestyle while scripture teaches that discipleship means sacrifice.

So how do we walk the fine line of wanting our students to have a challenging experience while balancing the need to keep students safe? This is a training question: how do we train the future leaders of the church while living in a “safe” focused culture? LeaderTreks has been answering this question since 1994. Almost everyday we get this question because our focus is developing Christian leaders. Here are four ways to challenge students to develop them as leaders and risk takers:

1. Partner with a church in a different culture than yours
Offer to serve with a inner city, suburban or rural church; whatever church would take your students out of their comfort zone. Serve together allowing the local church to take care of safety. They know their town and area, they will know when and where to serve and be safe. Follow-up the experience with a in-depth debrief. Ask hard questions about serving in this area in the future and get your students thinking about what risk-taking would cost them. Talk fear and faith and how they go together.

2. Allow students to make decisions that lead to success or failure
You can use this technique on any normal youth ministry event. Allow students to be the owners by letting them make the decisions. The key here is to allow them to make the decisions even if it’s not how you would do it or even if you know it won’t work. The minute you let students make the decisions it will become challenging for them and they will have to take risks. Please note this is not easy; you can always do an event quicker, cheaper and better but that won’t produce leaders, just really well run events. You must trade short-term results for long-term gains. You will also need to develop the skill of debriefing. To make this technique effective you need to debrief the experience with students helping them turn failure into learning opportunities. We do this everyday at LeaderTreks and if you ever want help knowing more about this just call us. We love to discuss this and give you free resources to help you make it happen.

3. Visit people and places that practice other religions and cultures
Take your students to a Synagogue or Hindu Temple. See if they will give you a tour and make a presentation about their beliefs. After the presentation debrief with your students about how they would witness to a person from that religion. Talk about how they would break down the walls of indifference and how they would share and show grace.

4. Take you students to a prison (a very different culture than yours) and allow them to experience chapel and talk with the chaplain about the problems prisons face. Again debrief the experience: what does the Bible say about our responsibilities to people in prison? These kinds of experiences will move your students out of their comfort zone and cause them to really think about what they believe. The idea that they are the solution to many of the problems other people face will lead them to consider talking risks in the name of Christ to meet peoples needs.

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