The word “disciple” is often thrown around today, but not always in the context of following Christ. Apple has disciples, the music industry has disciples and your favorite sports team has disciples. Disciples are the people who are “sold out” for the cause, and they will do anything, give everything and go everywhere for that cause.
This is what Jesus spoke about in John 8:31-32. In short, Jesus said his disciples were those who were willing to be true to him and his Word. So in the context of youth ministry, the question arises: How do we help our students become disciples of Jesus?
Here are three keys of discipling students.
1. Start with the end in mind.
As you disciple students toward Christ, you must think and pray through the whole process and not just the first few pieces. So what is going to happen after the service? How are you going to help your students make an impact for Christ at their schools? In their communities? Online? Discipleship with the end in mind means every part of the process is focused on the desired end result. So, what do you see as the end result?
2. Less Equals More
For you, the leader, discipleship isn’t doingship (yeah, I just made that word up—it’s OK). You disciple by empowering and equipping your leaders and students to take ownership in the ministry. The only way for students to learn to be disciples of Christ is to do the work of Christ. They can only do what you don’t do and what you empower them to do.
3. With Parents and Not for Parents
There is no way to disciple the students in your ministry without the involvement of their parents. If you are going to serve the students well and help them become more committed disciples, their parents (or guardians) have to be involved. I know some families are different than others, as the parents aren’t involved in the student’s life at all. In these cases, the person who is the closest to the role of guardian—from a grandparent to a social worker—can play the role of parent in your ministry.
Russell St. Bernard (@PastorRuss09) is the youth minister at Reid Temple AME Church’s north campus in Glenn Dale, Maryland, and the founder of After the Music Stops, a full-service youth ministry resource company dedicated to assisting leaders and parents as they serve their students.