Preventing Youth Leaders from Causing Others to Stumble

by Kellie Craft, Christian Examiner Contributor |

Let's say your student is at school and witnesses another student (or even more than one) doing something questionable. This may be "making out" on school grounds, vaping, or being disrespectful to a teacher. It happens all the time.

Wednesday Youth Service

Wednesday night is usually a big church night – and a big night for youth services.

If you've ever been to a Wednesday night service, you know how it works.... Depending on the church, there can be just a few to many middle and high school students at these youth services. Some churches have an adult service in one location and their youth service in another area.

Smaller churches have a leader as well as older youths to help in general and for breakout sessions. In bigger churches, the youth groups are run by a Youth Pastor, with older youths as the leaders. Whether small or big, in almost every case, the youth group depends on youth leaders – to teach and set examples for others. The students look up to these leaders.

Many of these students go to school together, so they know each other, and some are also friends. Those who aren't considered "friends," are watched even more closely, because it's all about who saw who, doing what. That's just how it works.

Did Your Youth Leader Knowingly Commit a Sin?

Imagine the surprise of a student walking in, seeing one of the kids they saw at school doing that "something questionable," and finding out the "questionable" kid is now their youth leader! I've seen students turn around and walk out when this happened! Think about it—why would a student want someone questionable like that leading them to Christ, when that questionable person is not even obeying the Word themselves?

Or, it could be worse... the student could now believe this behavior is acceptable in God's eyes because the youth leader is doing it! So, the student continues to go to church, believing it's okay to do those questionable things! If this is the case, the student may then start the same bad habit because of the youth leader's example!

Looking at the big picture, there are three different situations here:

  1. The youth leader knowingly committing a sin;
  2. The student leaves the church because of the youth leader;
  3. The student commits the same sin as the youth leader thinking it's alright.

For these reasons it's so important for youth leaders to be very versed in scripture and follow the Word... while at church—and especially—everywhere else. Church isn't just a "Sunday" thing (or in this case, Wednesday). It's all week long. Every day. It's your life. Youth leaders need to know they're being watched by other students—so they need to set a good example—the right example.

Unfortunately, when you have the leaders of the church acting righteous while at church, yet are seen doing questionable things outside of church, this causes confusion and stumbling... enough to cause others to leave the church or be led astray by their actions.

"But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." (1 Corinthians 8:9 NASB)

And it's not just at church. When a youth leader starts a youth group at school, but looks down on underclassmen—just because they're underclassmen—this, too, sends a negative message to others. No one wants to hang around people who look down on them.

And this is not a "kids will be kids" situation. This dynamic is important to any follower of Christ, and as a church leader, even more so. Youth leaders are other students' leaders in Christ and need to be continually trained. These are the ones who must show other students how to behave and be like Christ. Whether they know it or not, and whether they or like it or not, there's an expectation on these youth leaders – they're looked up to.

We Must Help Our Youth Leaders be More Like Christ

As a church or Youth Group leader, you're responsible for the youth leaders in your flock. Consider this... are you:

  1. Meeting with your youth leaders on a regular basis? What do you discuss?
  2. Letting these young leaders know you have an open door so they can speak to you about issues troubling them?
  3. Addressing issues brought to light concerning leaders as soon as possible? Or are you brushing these issues under the rug? Some things need to be tackled immediately.

No one is perfect—we all sin. So always keep on training the youth—and never fall into slumber thinking "It's all okay," and that you already have the perfect team. Through small groups, weekly messages, email devotionals, whatever you do, keep guiding the young leaders around you. This world is fallen, and the enemy is trying everything he can to destroy believers... and our children are a huge target.

Continue to pray for and train our young leaders. They'll appreciate your concern. Help them stay on the path and, grow more in Christ as the Holy Spirit further resonates in their hearts.

— Kellie L. Craft is a single mother of a teenage daughter and two funny dogs. She's a devout Christian and founder of Frog Communications, a certified SEO Copywriting and Consulting business. Protecting our children is a top priority for her. She's currently working on a book that will help support her friend's dream of opening a God-driven orphanage one day. To learn more about Kellie's work, visit and