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youth ministry, student leader, student ministry

Why Student Leaders

By Doug Franklin August 4, 2009

So much is being said about students dropping out of church. Many are leaving at the end of high school and not returning until their mid 20’s or later. This problem is getting a lot of focus from the emergent leaders’ movement. They are working hard on solutions the church can use to invite this generation back. The question we as youth workers must ask is: “Why did they leave in the first place?” Believe me; I am not looking to place blame. I just want to know what is affecting these students and what our ministries can do to stop it from happening.

I believe the problem lies with what students identify with. Do your students see themselves as members of a youth group or a church? Or more importantly, do they see their youth group as a ministry of students to the world? The question is an important one because it’s the difference between just attending and being owners. Owners don’t walk away. They have an investment, a stake in the goal. Just because they have graduated from high school doesn’t change anything. On the other hand, attendees buy a ticket and hope for a fun event. They don’t see anything for themselves after graduation, so they walk.

Student ministries need to make owners of students. The best way to do this is to start a student leadership team. A student leadership team will allow students to set goals, resource projects, cast vision, rally the troops, lead ministries, and be responsible for the success or failure of the group. Leadership teams have the potential to transform students thinking. Where they once thought of themselves as participants in the plans of the youth pastor, they now can see themselves as the leaders of the ministry, the owners. This change in thinking has more power to capture hearts of students than any concert or video game party ever could.

When a student leadership team is run well it will:

1. Not be for every student in your youth group
2. Require students to meet a standard of behavior for application
3. Meet on a regular basis
4. Study leadership principles
5. Have students in real, important leadership roles
6. Allow students to make decisions without direction from adults
7. Force students to face consequences of their decisions
8. Help students see themselves as the owners of their youth group
9. Have adult facilitators who are passionate about student leaders
10. Challenge students to do the impossible

I started LeaderTreks because I believe that student leadership development is the key to seeing transformational change in students. Leadership will help unlock the potential of your students. If you have already started a leadership team I applaud you. If you have not I want to encourage you to start one.

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