You start by laying a small, biblical foundation and then expand out from there. A couple issues back, Mobilize explored what this beginning foundation might look like. But once you’ve personally laid this beginning foundation as the youth leader, what’s next?
It’s time to build a broader-based relational discipling strategy for your ministry! Obviously this takes manpower, which is the issue we’re about to unpack. But before we do, keep in mind that if manpower is a major concern in your ministry context, you can always start small and match your most eager student leaders with the disciple-makers you do have, and then grow your program incrementally. If you build a solid, successful disciple multiplication process, you will have a built-in, ever-expanding talent pool that is always being replenished, because once your students step into the process, they can become disciplers of their peers.
Custom-Build a Strategy for Your Context
As you consider what discipleship multiplication strategy will work best in your youth ministry context (one-on-one, two-on-one, small group, etc.), take the time to gather input and ideas from the key leaders in your church, including your Senior Pastor. Involving key leaders early in this process will allow you to benefit from their godly wisdom and will also help you build buy-in from key opinion leaders. Whatever discipleship multiplication plan you eventually decide to go for, it will be more effective if you have leadership alignment from the beginning.
Here are a few key adult manpower insights to consider as you design a discipleship strategy that works best in your situation.
Focus on a Few
Within your current youth leadership team, it’s probably impossible to effectively disciple every student in your youth group, especially as the group grows. But what is possible, is for the adult leadership to pour into a carefully selected group of students and train them to train others to follow Jesus. This can be challenging for some leaders to grasp because it can border on feeling like you’re “playing favorites.” You may get some pushback about singling out a few students to pour more time and effort into. It will take a concerted effort on your part to communicate the end-goal vision of disciple-making which is to build a self-perpetuating process of growing disciples who can turn around a teach others how to follow Jesus.
Try This! ❯
Approach one or two key leaders in your church and begin the conversations about how to build (or improve on) a discipleship multiplication strategy for your youth ministry.
Don’t get discouraged if you get pushback. Just explain that this is the approach Jesus took as He made disciples. He called a few—“The Twelve”—into His inner circle and spent more time with them (Matthew 4:19-20). It’s not that He didn’t minister to the larger group of followers who were drawn to His ministry, but He made no apologies about building more deeply into the few, so that they would be prepared and equipped to disciple others(John 15:16). And it worked! How can we tell? Because you and I are Christians today because the disciples spread the gospel after Jesus exited the scene! His disciples—infused with the power of the Holy Spirit—turned their world upside and inside out with the spiritual truths Jesus’ poured into them and modeled during His time of public ministry!
Use Gospel-Infused Resources
Keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate the disciple multiplication process. Remember, we want students to gain confidence in their relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, they simply need to know the basics of how to follow Him. There have been a lot of great curriculum and programs that have been developed that create great structure for these discipleship relationships. For example, you might choose one of Dare 2 Share many student devotional books and have your adults get together with the teens they’re discipling weekly to talk about what they’re learning together. But whatever discipling resources you decide to use, it’s important to keep focused on the gospel and disciple multiplication. When students meet regularly with an adult that cares, and there is a focus on Jesus and His resurrection power, significant life change WILL happen. So use great resources, but don’t let that substitute for the impact that flows out of life-on-life discipleship relationships.
Making Time for Life-On-Life Discipleship
Youth leaders and other adults can easily feel overwhelmed with the idea of adding one more thing to their schedule. Everyone is incredibly busy these days, and we should praise them for the commitment that they are already making to just be there on Wednesday nights. So instead of trying to convince your adult leaders to add one more thing to their schedules, consider encouraging your leaders to invite a student or two into their lives. What might this look like? Invite your assigned student(s) over after school to help get dinner ready for the family and then spend the meal talking about how all of you have seen God at work in your life during the past week. Or schedule a workout routine together where you can spend time talking about God. Or invite a student to join you in an ongoing ministry opportunity you’re already involved in (soundboard, foodbank, homeless ministry, hospital visits, music, etc.). As you spend time doing things together, make a point of connecting conversationally about spiritual things—like the devotions you’ve both been reading together.
Help your adult youth leaders catch a vision for how to identify these areas of their lives and be super creative. Discipleship doesn’t have to be a coffee house Bible study, although that’s great. Listen to sermons together while cooking dinner, pray for the lost while out for breakfast, talk through passages of Scripture while shooting hoops or lifting weights, serve at a soup kitchen and engage in gospel conversations—these and any number of other creative ideas are all ways that adult leaders can engage in a disciple multiplication strategy without getting burnt out or overwhelmed. It’s your job to coach, encourage, and celebrate the disciple multiplication strategy with your youth leaders and other adults that you are able to recruit to this amazing mission.
Let’s follow Jesus’ lead and invest the effort it takes to make disciple who make disciples!
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Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on resource in your inbox!