Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).And he brought him to Jesus. John 1:40-42
What was the first thing you did after coming to Christ? Join a class? Start going to church? Neither of those are bad, but that wasn’t the first thing Andrew did. The first thing Andrew did was tell his brother. He shared what he had found.
How quickly this went
Evangelism: “There goes the Lamb of God”
Discipleship: “Where are you staying”
Evangelism: “We have found the Messiah
Discipleship: And he brought him to Jesus.
I think there are way to many levels between us and Jesus. Things we think we must do first before becoming “real” followers. We tell young people, directly or indirectly, you’re not ready for X. So, to get them ready, we build in so many layers to get them “ready” that I think we may actually be keeping kids from Jesus.
Evangelism and Discipelship are not not about being better educated, they’re about Spirit initiative. Andrews actions were motivated by an inward change. He was excited about what he had heard and then shared it.
I want kids to grow, but not at the expense of them not acting on what the Spirit initiates them to do. No, we cannot nor would we, intentionally, stop them from obeying the Spirit, but sometimes we send a subtle message that they’re not ready to share their faith.
Let’s take away every hinderance from a young person, or anyone else, who experiences Jesus Christ. Let’s tell them, “Go and share what you’ve learned with someone you care about!”
(above: my actual army painted and ready for action)
Yesterday I shared a conversion I had at a game store that sold me on a hobby I was interested in. As a youth pastor who focuses, (some say obsess) over the process of discipleship, I knew what was happening to me, I was being evangelized and offered the opportunity to be discipled in the Warhammer 40k way. As with many things, such as sports, Warhammer 40k is not a hobby but a lifestyle to some. They live it, breathe it, talk about it and share it. Isn’t that what we desire for ourselves and for our students who claim the name of Jesus? With that said, let’s look at how my conversation with a game store owner breaks down into some practical principles for our youth ministry.
Let’s start again:
Her: Welcome to Games Workshop!
Her: What brings you by today?
Note: This is a key question. Why did that guest come? Why do our regulars come? Asking students why they come to our meetings may seem obvious (social, parents make them, etc.) but when I entered this store I was looking for information and connection, not just a salesman who wanted to sell me stuff. The same can be said of the kids who come to our meeting.
Me: Just looking
Note: Defines many of our kids.
Her: Do you know what you are looking at?
Note: Great question. Do our kids know what they are looking at? Even our most seasoned kids may not know. They don’t know or understand that we are Christ’s hands and feet, His church. We should ask this questions more often.
Her: What are you working on right now?
Note: She knew I had some gaming affinity and thought maybe I already had an army, etc. I include on my guest cards and I ask, “So where do you normally go to church?” I think a better question is, “What are you currently working on in your life right now? ” The answer to this quesiton will clue us in to where kids are with Christ and not just their religious affiliation.
Me: Nothing at the moment, I’m a newbie. have some unpainted models at my house.
Her: Would you like to put some paint on a model?
Note: Here’s what she did not do: “Let me tell you all the rules of Warhammer 40k and it’s history.” She had me start painting and engaging to see if something would spark. I have decreased, to almost nil, of what is required to be a leader in our youth ministry. The “rules” to becoming a leader became impediments to kids “putting paint on a model.” If you want to see how we get kids “putting paint on models” you can watch my video HERE and HERE
Check out this Model Painting Video
Note: Once she knew I had an army, unpainted, she knew I had interest but not desire. Many of our kids love God in theory, but their desire has lapsed. It should be our goal to get kids re-engaged with the God who called them in the first place.
When I finished my basic paint job,
Her: Would you like to put your model in a game?
Note: Now, after I painted, she challenged me to play. Se knew, “if I can get him to play, I can show him how much fun this is.” We should always be introducing the next level of joy in knowing Christ.
She taught me some basic rules and had me moving pieces and rolling dice. After we were done she continued:
Her: What did you like best? Painting or Playing?
Note: In the end, this gaming evangelist wants to sell product and create another gaming enthusiast which will add to the gaming community synergy. In the Warhmmer 40k community there are painters and they enjoy collecting and painting models, but that is it. There are players who enjoy the game but not the painting process. It’s the same with faith. We will always have students who like to paint. they like the artistry and color of religion. Students will come to events and enjoy the pageantry. We know the joy of living our faith and our joy of knowing God, let’s create and offer the next level of joy to our kids every week.
Me: I liked both
Her: Great, how would you like to get started?
Author Donald Miller, in the forward of his book Blue Like Jazz, talks about not being interested in jazz until he watched a man passionately play jazz on his saxophone. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it. Christianity is not hobby. It’s not something we dabble in. Jesus is life and lifestyle or he is no life at all. Lets’ all live passionately for Christ but let us also create and offer every kid a chance to “put paint on their model” (know Christ) and play it out (live for Christ).
How are you getting kids to experience or re-experience faith in your youth ministry? Share your process of how you get kids to re-ignite their faith
Play Warhammer (or not) and want to compliment me on my fine paint job? Leave a comment below.
The military teaches discipline, leadership, and job skills
Sports teams teach sportsmanship and how to pay the game
Churches run programs to keep people busy and not sin as much
These are organization with a list of activities with no clear goals. What if they said,
School’s produce imaginative students ready to solve problems in a complicated world?
The military trains men and women to be people of character who can ably defend our country both home and abroad.
Sport teams make leaders who will do their best on and off the field.
Churches make disciples who make disciples to impact the world for Christ.
These latter job descriptions are far more compelling than the former.
The church teaches about God? Really? Is that all? You may say, “Isn’t that enough? Think about the job description you received when you were hired. How much of that are you fulfilling? What impact are you making because of it? Now, think about what you are CALLED to do. How much of that are you fulfilling? Who we are as believers and youth pastors impact schools, military, and sports teams by impacting students . In a word, we impact CULTURE.
What has the church, as an spiritual organism/organization produced in recent years? We can’t produce Christians because God does that; so what does the church produce? Can’t we produce better educated, leaders of characters with skills to impact the world around us? Why isn’t it in our job description simply ot make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus to impact the world around us? Why doesn’t the details of this job description include
Helping kids use their imaginations to see what God sees
Teach job skills and make better employees of our community
Take more mission trips and have less pizza parties.
Why do churches set the bar so low by asking youth pastors to “run the program” ? Why can’t churches set the bar high with “Equip students to do the work of the ministry” or “Make disciples of Jesus?” . Why Because it’s less work, and less mess, to just run the program.
How can you expand, re-write, your job description to be more effective at making disciples of Jesus.
I was driving my 17 year old son to school the other day. There are two roads to his school. One involves a traffic light and the other involves a stop sign. I usually take him the way of the stop light. My route involves going straight and then making a left. The other road is curvy, so I would have to drive slower and it takes me past the school and I have to come back to it, Longer right? When we reached the road that my son said was faster I could have argued and said, “No it’s not” and gone straight. So we went his way, but it still bugged me whether it was faster or not.
So, in my typical anal fact finding way, and a chance to tell my son his route was not faster, I went back the same way I came and timed it. I sat in front of the school, hit the stop watch on my iPhone and took off. I drove between 40-45 mph. My son’s route back to where we started took 2:55.3 seconds. I then turned and went my way, keeping my speed the same as the other route. I hit the light but I was only delayed a few seconds before the light turned green. Arriving back at the school I stopped the watch, it read 3:39.5. My son was right, it was faster. I was a bit shocked. I thought my was was faster.
This is the first word you cannot put together with discipleship: Faster. Faster is a selling word. Faster sells cars, cleaning products, and tax audits. All of these are things we want to go fast and to help us get done with whatever we have to do to get to the thing we want to do. Faster is provable because you can time it.
Which is the easier way to tie your shoes? Bunny ears or the traditional method? Neither to a man with no hands and a man with no feet doesn’t care. Easier is also a selling word, as in, “Use this, it’s easier than…..” Easier is a matter of opinion and context. What is easy to for one, is difficult for another.
Faster and easier are not the words we should be looking for when it comes to discipleship.
Is it easier to do discipleship one on one or in a small group?
Is it faster to make disciples if we get everyone to make the meeting or the retreat?
If someone tells you there is an easier or faster way to do discipleship, or even ministry in general, run away. It does not exist. They both can be tested but the conditions must be the same as the way the person that told you how they they reached X faster.
Words you could use to judge any discipleship method or practice
Easier and faster are words we use in order to try to make our job easier.Faster and easier are great words to sell products but poor words to use when leading people in the way of Christ. There was nothing easy or fast about Jesus’ time with his disciples or His crucifixion on the cross.
Throw your two cents and two words in the mix. What two words would you use to describe discipleship?
What does this sign say? More importantly, what does it NOT say and do we put out things about our youth ministry just like it?
Clearly, the grocery store is going for price point sale. We have cheap stakes, they are not the best steaks, but they are the cheapest. Do we “sell” our youth ministry in a similar fashion? Do we say things like “We are a fun youth group!” We use that to get kids to come and hope they stay. It may be true that our our youth groups are fun but is it a bait and switch tactic?
Jesus told people up front, this thing called discipleship, it’s tough. Now, I am not in favor of pinning a visitor to the wall with an all nothing proposition on their first visit, but I wonder how much this proposition comes up at all in youth groups.
I also do not think we should advertise our youth ministries as the cheapest faith in town, “Come on by, we won’t make you angry by challenging you or preaching the gospel, but heck we’ll have fun.”
What do you think? Do you think youth ministries still practice bait and switch tactics and is this hurting youth ministries (and churches) in the long run in making disciples? Tell me what you think.
Forst let me say I love you guys! You were a great group this year and God did some amazing things in our midst and in our hearts. I hope the week was a powerful for you as it was for me. As I promised here is a bunch of the stuff I used this week like the Bad Evangelism video and the video, our Alabama Disaster relief. Oh, and even the Oliver video clip
Before launching anything, you have to have a certain level of buy in. Whether it is a small group, discipleship group, evangelistic event, or a leadership group you need kids to buy in. You have to have kids who are interested, that have some want to. How do we get that? How do we do that? We have to get students to buy in with:
Hearts (they have to feel it)
Minds (they have to think it will be worth it, and t will be)
Souls (they have to believe it will affect their walk with Christ and could have a greater impact on the youth group and the Kingdom of God)
Bodies (they have to show up, sometimes just by faith)
So, what can we do to help our kids buy into the next level of their spiritual growth?
1. Make it a practice of telling kids you believe they can make it to the next level.
The students may not be ready now, but they can be and will be if they know someone believes in them.
2. Invite kids to taste the next level.
Jesus invited Peter, James, and John on special trips where they experienced things (mount of transfiguration, personal prayer time with Jesus in the garden). Find ways to invite kids to experience that next level of maturity.
3. Cast a vision of what life could like for them at the next level.
Kids need to see what’s in it for them and for the Kingdom. I know we want every choice to be altruistic, but most kids don’t have that. Their choices can be Spirit prompted, if they can see it with the heart and their imagination.
Jesus painted great pictures. We can too.
Paint a picture of the rewards at the next level (eternity, crowns, presence of God)
Paint a picture of the consequences at the next level (they will reject or persecute you)
Paint a picture of the dangers at the next level (most guys are enticed by an element of danger)
Paint a picture of the joy they will experience at the next level (the positive emotions will keep them coming back to that level)
4. Tell them there is a task custom made for them at the next level.
Jesus told Peter “Feed my sheep”. You have to show young people that their are important things to be done at the next level and they can do them if they step out in faith.
5. Let them know they will learn something they do not know at the next level.
We have a responsibility (on a program level) to make each level interesting, challenging, and educational. The disciples went from fishermen to walking on water, healing the sick, experiencing the power of the Spirit, proclaiming the gospel to Gentiles, and ultimately, giving their life. We have to make sure each level is not just fishing in different lake but deeper lakes with bigger fish to be caught.
6. Pursue and Live At Your Next Level
Before we invite kids to the next level, let’s make sure we are heading to the next level God has for us. We can’t invite kids where we have not been or are not heading. They will know if we are stuck at or scared of the next level in our own lives.
Take your program apart into small pieces.
Divide it into levels of deeper maturity (where do you want them to go?)
Decide which kids to invite to which level. (invite them consistently)
What rewards and consequences await at each level?