Discipleship doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that happens over a lifetime. In student ministry, you are one part of that discipleship process. For some, it will be the beginning of that process as students place their faith in Jesus. For others, you will help them continue their discipleship journey. There will also be some who begin their relationship with Jesus later in life when the seeds planted during student ministry years begin to bear fruit. This isn’t news to you who are in student ministry: these years are a critical time of discipleship in people’s lives. For many, they lay the spiritual foundation that will be built upon for years to come.
The student ministry years are too important to approach without a plan. Your students are too important to not have a destination in mind where you are leading them. In order to take advantage of every discipleship moment that exists, you need to pray, work, and sweat through developing a long-term approach to discipleship in your ministry.
A long-term approach to discipleship:
Clearly communicates to parents.
When you take the time to develop a long-term strategy for discipleship in your ministry it clearly communicates to parents that you have a plan. This is important because when parents see that you have a clearly organized plan for discipleship they are more willing to partner with you and even get involved. When you can show a parent that you have put time, effort, and prayer into the plan for their student’s discipleship it helps to earn you the respect and support you need to lead an effective student ministry.
Involves choosing curriculum with purpose.
Curriculum is a major component of your discipleship plan. Whether you develop your own, or choose a reliable curriculum provider, your curriculum should be chosen strategically to support your discipleship plan. Curriculum that is chosen haphazardly reveals that there isn’t a clearly organized plan. Just studying something isn’t good enough, and farming the curriculum choice out to the small group leader may seem like you are empowering leaders, but in reality it sends the unintended message that you don’t have a plan or that you are removing yourself from the process. Remember, you only have two days per year to disciple your students through groups. Your student’s discipleship is too important to take your curriculum decision lightly.
Attracts leaders to the ministry.
When you have a clear plan for discipleship, people will want to be involved. People want to serve in a ministry where the leader can clearly show the destination and chart the course to get there. It is refreshing and empowering. It attracts the kinds of leaders that you want on the student ministry team. Are you having trouble recruiting and keeping leaders? Check your discipleship plan and its’ clarity.
Too many student ministries don’t know how they will be discipling their students next month, much less next year. These years are too important. A serious approach to discipleship is one that develops a long-term strategy.
This article was originally published as part of a series by Ben Trueblood, Director of Student Ministry at LifeWay. To read more from Ben, visit his blog HERE.