Youth ministry doesn’t need another program; it needs student leadership. We all know that evangelism, discipleship and service are the real keys to developing students as Christ followers.
So does it make sense to add another core by adding student leadership development? My answer is yes and no. No, I don’t think you should make leadership development another piece of the pie, but I do think that student leadership makes all the rest of the pie better. Let me explain: If we do the witnessing, discipleship and plan the service outings, all students will do is participate. Participation leads to apathy because it’s the same old, same old. If, on the other hand, we can get students to witness, disciple others and lead service projects, we will see them become the leaders in church. They will move from participants to owners. Owners stay long term and care about the vision and direction of the church.
When it comes to ministry, is it possible for a student to do what you do? Sure, it won’t be as good, it will take more of your time, and the cost will go up. The benefit, however, will be found in the life of the student. Youth ministry is meaningless if we don’t impact students at the heart level. Are we really willing to change how we are doing ministry to affect students’ hearts? The real question is, are we willing to step back and let students lead?