Youth Ministry

The Student-led Youth Pastor

By Doug Franklin December 5, 2013

Youth workers who let their students decide what events they are going to do in their ministry are weak leaders. There is a difference between student leadership in youth ministry and deferring your role as leader to let students decide. Youth workers often let students decide because they don’t want to lead, not because they want to see students lead. They don’t want a decision they made to disappoint any students, but they fail to realize that their actions of letting students decide will disappoint and alienate more students. ID-10031458

Strong leadership makes decisions based on needs and goals. Once decisions have been made, a strong leader casts the vision for the students and allows them to understand how each events is going to help them move closer to their goals.

When students are given a choice of what event to do next, they lobby for the one that they like. They don’t consider others needs. They don’t consider the goals of the ministry. They don’t care how the decision affects other people. Without these considerations, the decisions that students make will lead to real disappointment.

Sure, it’s important to get students’ buy-in. We need to put students in leadership roles. However, the students in these roles need to be there because they have already bought into the vision for the ministry. You, the youth worker, are the holder and defender of the vision. You should never give that up. You bring students into leadership as they demonstrate ownership of the vision. When they own the vision, then you give them choices based on the needs of the other students. This will develop strong student leaders.

“Image courtesy By anat_tikker/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.


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