One of the most important aspects of student ministry is Discipleship. However, it's also something that many student pastors seem to struggle with today. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus doesn't mandate us to reach people, but rather to make disciples and to teach them. Today I want to share with you five important thoughts on discipleship that I have learned over the years.
1. Remember that Discipleship is not a Program, but it is a Lifestyle
Discipleship is not an eight step program or a six week class. Discipleship takes place every day and it's a process that never really ends. Paul said, "Follow me as I follow Christ". As a leader, if you are truly living out your faith before the students you are discipling, they will see it and eventually begin to reproduce it in their own lives.
2. Make Discipleship in Your Student Ministry Intentional
The process of discipleship is a lot like the growth of the human body. It will grow naturally, as long as the right things are happening. However, the things that need to happen (ie. rest, food, and water) are all things that require intentionality. Don't just assume it will happen but instead, as a shepherd, make sure to intentionally facilitate discipleship in your student ministry.
3. Allow Your Discipleship Process to be Practical
Don't over-complicate discipleship, but at the same time avoid the temptation to under-challenge your students. Too often today our students sit in services and get information over-load. They are often over preached and under-challenged. Instead, find ways to challenge your teens to practically live out their faith every day.
4. Make Your Discipleship Process Relational
We like to call our discipleship process, "Doing Life Together". Look in the Bible at healthy relationships between disciples and disciplers (ie. Paul and Timothy, Jesus and Simon Peter) and you will see that discipleship in scripture looks a lot like family!
5. Give the Students Room to Fail and Grace to Welcome them Back
There is no such thing as a perfect disciple or discipleship program. In this life we are all on a journey, and I have noticed that disciples who are given grace to make mistakes and who are encouraged to work through their faith are more likely to make it in the end. Don't believe me, just ask Simon Peter!