All roads may lead to Rome but not all youth programs lead to discipled young people. Youth Pastors have all kinds of words to describe their youth program, some call it youth group, others call it youth ministry, some call it student ministry but these titles don’t really give a true picture of what is happening at your midweek meeting, so allow me to break down three roads to youth discipleship.
Road #1 Youth Group
Youth group is mini-van, dependable and safe.
The Youth Pastor plans and does everything.
Youth Group is about maintenance, it doesn’t rock the boat.
Youth group is about gathering to be religious.
Road #2 Youth Ministry
Youth Ministry is a black Escalade.
Youth ministry is cool to show off but not, necessarily, effective.
Youth help the Youth Pastor execute “his” vision
Youth Ministry is about growth, rock but don’t sink the boat.
Youth ministry is about the crowd listening to the Sermon on the Mount packed in to learn about Jesus
Youth ministry is gathering to learn with a touch of wow.
Road #3 Youth In Ministry
Youth in ministry is a self driving-car that the students build.
Youth in ministry is dynamic.
The Youth Pastor helps students, discover, develop, and deploy.
Youth in ministry is Peter, James, and John on a mountain knowing Jesus.
Youth in ministry is about gathering to see what God will do through students.
Two of these three roads are dead ends and one, I believe, leads to making the kind of disciples Jesus made.
Questions To Ask
Which road are you on?
Is it taking you where I want to go?
What kind of changes will you need to make to take your students in the direction of real discipleship?
If you want to know more about youth discipleship you can pick up my book The Disciple Project: Raising Up A New Generation of Doers.