youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, mission trip

Should We Make Students Serve?

By Doug Franklin February 25, 2011

As I spend time in youth ministry I notice two different kinds of student service. The kind that engages with student’s hearts, and the kind that is forced on them because of their age. Having students serve their community is good and often produces maturity. When students see real needs, they don’t usually have to be asked to help, they will jump in and make a difference. Often, they are willing to spend all their time and money on the problem. But when adults think its a good idea for students to serve and they create an opportunity to serve for serving sake, students rebel and display a selfish attitude. Adults mistakenly judge this behavior and condemn students for not caring about their community. As adults we don’t have to make up service opportunities, there are plenty of them around. What we need to do is engage students with the stories of the people in pain. These stories will unlock our student’s desire for service.

This year, as you are planning for the summer mission trip, don’t focus on the location of where you are going. Focus on the stories of people you will serve. This will take time on your part. You will have to run down the stories and a few pictures, but the work will pay off. Your students will go on the mission trip connected to the people they serve instead of the cool stuff to do at the location. I believe this will make a mission trip that helps students grow in maturity.

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