Let’s Talk About A New Way To Disciple Teens

For those who do not know, I have a Youtube channel dedicated to quipping youth workers and I have started doing Wednesday @ 1  Livestreams. In this episode I talk about my new book and how it came about.

You can grab a free chapter, The Discipleship Dilemma,  by subscribing to the Youth Ministry Round Up Newsletter at the bottom of the page.

Disciples Share What They Learn

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!”

I Don’t Want You To Be A Better Youth Pastor

Making life-long followers of Jesus. It’s kind of the point of my blog here. Every idea, video, etc, is meant to encourage you to think long term. To change something about yourself, your program, or even your theology when it some to making disciples.

I want you to become life-long disciple makers, not just more creative youth workers. Playing better games is a means to an end.  Being an awesome communicator is not the end game . It’s not about tactics, it’s about the lifestyle.

“But making disciples is far more than a program. It is the mission of our lives. It defines us. A disciple is a disciple maker.”
― Francis Chan, Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

My hope is that every post, every video, every resource, leads us all to becoming lifelong disciple makers and not just better youth pastors.

Simplifying Youth Discipleship

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:37
If the church has failed at anything it’s answering the “What shall we do” question. Either we have no plan or strategy to take immature believers and help them grow into mature believers or we make it so darn complicated by creating endless classes they should attend.
Peter kept the initial step pretty basic. Be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Church has complicate this over the years. We make people sign cards, attend classes, and we wind up with more knowledgeable but powerless believers.
There is nothing wrong with classes but the real classroom is the real world where stuff happens. Stuff we cannot control. Stuff that has no pat answers. Classrooms are where we learn platitudes and “how it’s done”. What happens when a new believer discovers that platitudes and bumper sticker theology doesn’t work in the real classroom of life?

I don’t disciple kids for the church world but for the real world.

I disciple students for real world encounters. I don’t baby them. I don’t pretend that life does not occasionally suck. I teach them that God is real even when it does suck. My plan is simple:
1. Build relationships through community
2. Lead kids to Jesus
3. Ask them to make their faith public (baptism and lifestyle)
4. Be accountable for their commitment.
5. Start using your gifts and talents immediately.
6. Without the Bible, your faith is unsustainable. Read it.
7. Take great steps of faith (giving, missions, and evangelism)
8. Let the Holy Spirt guide you, empower you, and bless you.
Yes, each point has sub-points and nuances, but they’re all done though relationships, not classes.
Classes don’t disciple people, people disciple people.
Your Turn
What is your answer to a new believer who says, “What shall we do?”
Who are you discipling right now?
How simple or complicated are you making it?

5 Keys To Fixing Your Broken Disciple Making Process

Our responsibility as adult believers and our role as youth workers, Sunday School teachers,, Pastors, or small groups leaders is to disciple people, to help them in their walk with Christ. These words from the Apostle Paul give us a clear five part strategy for engaging  and leading, especially students, to a God honoring life.

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

1.”we dealt with each of you”

The Apostle Paul took an interest in people, individual people. Look at how many individual names he calls out in the closing of many of his letters. If we are to lead people into a God honoring life we cannot exclusively do it from the pulpit, the altar, or the classroom; we have to do it face to face.

2. “as a father deals with with his own children”

For some of my students, I am the only “spiritual parent” they have and we, as a team, have the privlege to be spiritual fathers and mothers to them and speak into their lives. Let’s work with kids as a parent works with their small children, with patience, listening for clues of what they may need, and withholding judgement because they’re going to mess their pants quite a bit.

3. “encouraging”

After every gathering we should look for ways to encourage new believers  who participated by saying things like,

  • You are making great progress
  • Thanks for being brave and sharing your heart
  • What you said was right on point.

The more we affirm students for taking risks the more risks they will take.

4. “comforting”

I like to say I failed my way into the ministry because of all the mistakes I made growing up, but it was the comfort my mentors gave me when I blew it that made the difference. Kids who are doing their best need our comfort that they are not spiritual failures and that God loves them as much in their failures as in their successes.

5. “urging you to live lives worthy of God”

Occasionally, we have to light a fire under someone to get them going. I’m usually lighting them under kids who profess to be believers but haven’t done much and are wasting the potential God gave them. Take time to urge church kids who seem to know it all to serve, go, and live to the glory of God.

Your Turn

Which of these keys to discipleship do you do well?

Which key(s) do you need to work on?

 

5 Ways To Tell The Future Of Your Youth Ministry Part 5: A Heart To Win and Train

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How a youth worker reaches teens, families, etc.  can be the  center of attention in  church much like a tightrope walker in the middle of a circus. Everyone is watching. This can be a good thing if our heart and passion is to reach kids for Christ and help them to follow Jesus. But, like the audience (the church) at the circus, some get their thrills from watching the tightrope walker get across to the other side and others want us to fall. The future of our youth ministry does not depend if we fall or not but rather that we took the risk at all to reach out to kids who need Jesus or get our hands dirty in discipleship of these kids who find Christ.

I’ll do my best to stay away from worn out church catch phrases like “winning the lost” and “soul winners”. These are the phrases I grew up with along with a few others that were supposed to crack the whip and get me moving. The problem with these evangelical catch phrases was that’s all they were, catch phrases. The programs and the calendar did not reflect the sentiment. Our heart for evangelism may be clear through the various game nights, lock in’s etc. but is our passion to see a kid walk in the steps of Jesus equally evident on our calendars as well as in our hearts?

A musician who receives a tremendous amount of attention, from his loyal group of fans the Bobcats, is Bob Dylan. In fact, the people who who dive deep into all things Dylan are called Dylanoligists. These folks want to know the background behind the songs, who’s singing back up, what is this song about and where was Bob when he wrote it. And those are just for starters. A.J. Weberman, who coined the phrase, was known to go great lengths to find out about Bob,

“used to notoriously sneak around in the alleys behind Dylan’s apartments, rummaging through his garbage in the night, searching for shards of song sheets and clues to the mysteries if his music.”

I want to dig around in the back alleys of the Bible’s with a bunch of kids to see what we can find our about Jesus, God, walking by faith, and living with purpose.

I love to share Jesus with other people like I like sharing my favorite new album or artist. I want to say “Did you hear about…?”. That’s evangelism. Andrew went to Pater and said, “Come, I found the Messiah” and invited his brother on a journey of a life time. It was a natural relationship not a force entry into a strangers home.

Discipleship is like taking your same favorite record (Like Dylan) and talking deeper about the individual tracks saying things like “Did you hear that bass line on track 5?” or “What do you think he/she meant when they said…” . This is discipleship. It’s digging deeper into the big picture to pull out all the nuances of faith. Jesus asked his disciples many questions, one of which was “Who do men say I am?”, which could be a line from a Dylan song, and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God. Discipleship is about getting kids to dig a little deeper into the dumpster of faith. It will get messy but oh the treasure you will find.

In the end it come down to our heart and passion to not only reach kids but to disciple kids in their new-found faith. Evangelism won’t happen without a fire inside and discipleship can’t happen without intentionality. The future of many a youth ministry, who thought they could get by with just one or the other, was determined by the heart of the youth worker.

Your Turn:

What does your outreach strategy look like?

How are you leading kids to be stronger followers of Jesus? Small groups? One on one?

 

If you are looking for some outreach ideas that work, I have a few right HERE and one right HERE

If you are looking for some discipleship material you can find some HERE and HERE

 

Legacy Building In Student Ministry

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I recently spoke at Life For Youth Camp, the camp I received Christ at when I was 13 years old, and my mind was blown. Here’s the first mind-blower, I had five girls attending camp this summer who were aging out, they would not be able to come back. All of them chose my week of camp for the last seven years. When I thought about it, it really humbled me. Who am I that kids, teenagers, who would commit a week of their summer at based on the fact that I was speaking. To honor them I secretly put together a short graduation service for them on last night of camp.I made them some graduation boards, had then line up for Pomp and Circumstance, and gave them their graduation diplomas.

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You can watch the video down below on how I made the grad hats.

It was a sweet and surreal moment. The kids who attend my camp are like another youth group to me. I pray for them and follow up with them they commit to Christ. The fact they they were all moving on and I would not see them again next summer was sad and yet I felt like it was a moment of accomplishment for them and for me. But, the mind blowing had just begun.

The next mind blowing moment started after I had done the grad ceremony with these five students. I knew there had been a few campers on staff and I heard from some of them “You never did that for us?” I said, “Well, I just thought of it this year, man.” Anyway, I came to find out that we had 15 former campers on staff. Some of them I knew really well and others not so much. So, I decided to honor them as well. I made more diplomas (but no hats) and had them stand up to receive them at the staff meeting after the Friday night service. I asked each of them how many years they had been to camp. The number ranged from two to nine. I then asked how many of them had been at the camp  or received Christ during my week of camp and all of them had raised their hand for one or the other. Brains cells exploded everywhere. I fully understand that many factors were a part of them becoming counselors and not just my influence, but I am proud to be a part of all their stories.

It’s easy to say I bragging, but to be honest I had not been keeping track except for the number of years I had been going out to the camp. Tomorrow I want to share my thoughts on how I think I intentionally/unintentionally arrived here.

Your Turn:

What does building a legacy in student ministry look like to you?

Have you experienced it? What has your experience looked like?

Let me know in the comments below.