youth worker, youth ministry, adult volunteers, spiritual orphans

Spiritual Orphans

By Doug Franklin August 2, 2011

My first year of youth ministry was all about students liking me. I had no idea what I was doing and I spent much of my time trying to impress students. I thought if they liked me they would listen to me, but I got carried away with activities that only focused on entertaining them.  At the end of that first year there was some fruit (a few students had prayed to accept Christ), but all I was really doing was creating spiritual orphans. While I had led them to the Father I had not connected them to his family and I was not helping them grow. I have come to find that my experience was the norm. Many youth ministries are attracting students and witnessing to them, but they don’t do a great job of discipling students in the faith. I believe there a few reasons for this;

1. Discipleship takes mature adults who are willing to give their time to students. Many adults have placed their faith in the program of youth ministry and forgotten that all youth ministry really is a relationship between a mentor and mentee.

2. Discipleship takes time and the results are hard to measure. There is not a one-size-fits-all program for discipleship and adults have to think on their feet and use their own faith to trust God to work through them. Many adults just don’t have that kind of relationship with God to do this.

3. Discipleship requires personal growth in our own lives before we can give it to students. You can’t give what you do not have. If you are not growing in Christ how can you help make it happen in a student’s life?

When we bring students into youth ministry and share our faith and our culture with them we must be prepared to give them discipleship, otherwise all we are doing is creating spiritual orphans.

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