Do You Trust Your Students?

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Do you trust the students in your movement? As a staff person or a student leader, do you really believe in the students involved? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably subtly holding them back from accomplishing something truly spectacular.

If you had asked me this question during my first few years in ministry I would have answered, “Of course I trust the students to lead and grow the movement!” But my actions weren’t living that out. I led the Bible studies. I shared my faith, I led the ministry. I rarely empowered others to step up and lead themselves. I liked being the one in charge, and I didn’t trust the guys I was working with to be mature enough to lead the Bible study or share their faith on their own. (There’s a lot of “I’s” in that paragraph!)

Roland Allen, in his book Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and Causes Which Hinder It, describes how this attitude limits the growth of the ministry:

The conviction that new converts can beget new converts leads them from strength to strength: the conviction that they will fall if they are not nursed leads them from weakness to weakness. The difference lies not in the nature or in the environment of the converts; but in the faith of the missionaries. (kindle location 570, emphasis added)

In essence Allen is saying that the ability of the students who get involved with us to become leaders is in some measure dependent on our faith in them. If we think that a new believer can learn to share their faith immediately and pass it on, we instill value in them. If we think they needed to be slowly trained for a long period of time before trusting them with the gospel, then we suck the life of spontaneous expansion out of them. Same student, different results. All the result of our faith (or lack thereof) as leaders.

Our History of Trusting Students

A few years ago Steve Douglass, president of CCCI (of which Destino is a part), was asked to describe the best years of our organization’s history. His answer included the following descriptions:

  • Quick Turn Around: After someone trusted Christ they were out sharing the next day. You could become a new believer and be teaching basic lessons in less than three weeks.
  • Student Ownership: “I owned it – and so did my roomates. Not that we did it perfectly, but we deeply owned it and were allowed to run.”

It’s not an accident that these were two of the descriptions that Steve gave that day. When we trust students enough to let them share the gospel the next day or be leading basic lessons in just a few weeks, of course they’ll take ownership. They’ll feel believed in. They’ll be inspired. And they just might take over their campus.

What can you do today to start trusting your students more with the ministry?

  • Do you need to train them to share their faith from the very beginning of their walk with God?
  • Do you need to stop speaking at your weekly meetings and start letting students lead?
  • Do you need to get to know more of the students involved so you can find out what they are good at and set them loose to do it?
  • What idea do they have that you need to champion?

photo courtesy: mikebaird

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Posted on February 13, 2012

About destinoeric

A white guy who believes Latinos will change the world, Destinoeric served with Destino from 2008-2013. You can read more of his posts here or on twitter.

4 Responses to Do You Trust Your Students?

  1. Stephanie N. says:

    Another great post in a great (and so necessary) series!

  2. Adrian Pei says:

    Great reminder and I like the questions at the end. It’s so hard for ministry leaders to give up control and what they think is influence, isn’t it? Another thing we’ve seen is a danger is when there’s an approach to train others to simply be able to do the same things, not to surpass what we can do or imagine. It’s like self-preservation v. empowerment.

    • destinoeric says:

      Adrian, great point. When we train our students are we simply trying to clone ourselves or are we helping them become all who God created them to be? 

      I think we need to define success more than just according to what we’ve done, but what have we empowered others to do (including what we would never have been able to do ourselves).