My friend Doug Franklin is one of the greatest thinkers in student ministry in our country. Doug is the Founder and President of Leadertreks, a student leadership development ministry that uses use trips, innovative training, and curriculum to help students identify and develop their personal leadership skills. I asked Doug to be my Guest Blogger today. Enjoy.
Basic Premise: Leadership changes everything.
This statement is hard to deny. It is easy to think of many examples in the Bible where God used leaders to make great changes. Biblical examples like David, Nehemiah, Joshua, Peter, and Paul were men who not only led but also pursued God with their whole hearts. At a young age Joshua started following Moses around. Moses built into Joshua with the purpose of creating a leader who could lead the people when he was gone. Joshua became the man God used to lead His people into the Promised Land. Jesus found a rough fisherman named Peter and took him under His wing for three years. Through the process of failure and mentoring, Peter was shaped for leadership. He became the backbone of the early church and his influence is still felt today.
These people didn’t just fall into leadership roles, they grew into them. Throughout their lives they were able to affect everyone around them and make a difference for eternity. God’s plan centers on faithful Christians who are willing to do what is necessary to be effective for Him. It is the job of Christians to develop themselves, with God’s help, into the most useful tools possible for the Kingdom.
Theology Statement: We believe that God’s Plan in building His Kingdom requires fully developed student leaders ready to assume real leadership roles.
The Church needs strong Christian leaders. As Christians, we all have a responsibility to God to develop ourselves as leaders in order to be of the most use in the Kingdom. We also have a responsibility to hand off the reigns of leadership to those on the path behind us. Students are ready and able to learn leadership principles. The next generation of church leaders is sitting in youth ministries right now. In light of this, student leadership development is not only a good idea, but it is essential for building God’s Kingdom.
Paradigm Shift: Youth ministry is responsible to develop the next generation of Christian leaders.
The current paradigm of youth ministry will no longer meet the needs of a growing church. For years the goal of youth ministry has been to entertain students long enough to get them in the church doors. Focusing on bringing students into a program does not equip them to lead. By catering to students we are creating a generation of people who are not motivated to be world changers.
New Focus: Students must see youth ministry as their outreach to the world.
Instead of focusing inward, youth workers must focus outward. They must develop students who are equipped to lead. This paradigm shift requires a dramatic change in thinking among youth workers. Students must be challenged, not made comfortable. Students must be equipped, not entertained. Students must be released to lead, not relegated to the basement. This paradigm shift calls for courageous youth workers willing to stand against the tide, willing to believe in students. It calls for sacrifice and struggle, but it will ultimately be the key for God’s Kingdom.