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Lead by Enabling

Did you catch the Do Something Awards on VH1 last night? Wow. Wow! WOWowow! It was an explosion of fun, music, and celebration of teenagers who… are doing stuff in their communities.

I’m relatively new to discovering DoSomething.org but the idea behind their organization is pretty simple. They help teenagers do stuff in their community. Here’s how they describe their mission:

We love teens. They are creative, active, wired…and frustrated that our world is so messed up. DoSomething.org harnesses that awesome energy and unleashes it on causes teens care about. Almost every week, we launch a new national campaign. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and doesn’t require money, an adult, or a car. With a goal of 5 million active members by 2015, DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US for teens and social change.

As a youth worker and person who thinks about new ways of ministering to youth all the time, I deeply resonate with that.

They have made their job relatively simple. They encourage teenagers to do stuff without defining what “stuff” should be very much. This empowers their creativity and supports their capabilities. And they get out of the way. Then, for those who need a little more help, they set up national campaigns.

What’s the role of adults? They tee things up and get out of the way!

It’s power is clear. While not a religious organization or “youth ministry” in just a few short years, with a relatively small budget, they have activated millions of teenagers around the country… and their award show is broadcast nationally on VH1 packed full of celebrities celebrating the difference these teens are making. There’s power in their enabling methodology! 

I’m really intriged by this model. Which is part of the reason Marko & I invited Naomi Hirabayashi to come and speak at The Summit. We have a lot to learn about not only massive impact, but also a model of leadership that gets out of the way. It’s so foreign to youth ministry and yet all Gospel-y and youth ministry-y at the same time. It reminds me so much of Jesus sending out his disciples into the villages. (Luke 10)

As I watched their award show last night I loved that none of their “old people” appeared on stage. Their award show wasn’t a showcase of them, it was a showcase of their model of enabling and getting out of the way. They didn’t try to MC it, they didn’t accept any accolades. They just worked to put it on and got out of the way.

Questions: What would your ministry look like if your primary job was to tee things up and get out of the way? Could you lead a microphone-less/platform-less ministry? 

photo credit: Mark Davis/WireImage

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2 Responses to Lead by Enabling

  1. GeraldNC August 22, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Thanks for this, I’d never heard of dosomething.org

  2. Ricky Lewis August 22, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    This is so on. I’ve been watching Dosomething.org for about a year. I think the idea and effectiveness is great. I run a ministry in Texas that offers support to teens. The truth is something like this is a support as well. Empowering them to do something positive means they have less time to make poor choices. That is the main thing students tell me, they make poor choices when they are bored. This gives them a chance to have a reason to be around.
    Thanks for sharing. I hope we see a lot more like this in the future.

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