It goes without saying that Gospel Advancing Ministry leaders should be highly motivated to make disciples who makes disciples because that’s what Jesus told us to do! But let’s drill down a little deeper and explore just a few of the incredible things that happen when students get discipled and then turn around and become disciple makers themselves…
1. Student discipleship is a farm club for future leaders.
Matt Reagan, a youth pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, estimates that over the course his 17+ years of youth ministry experience, God used him to produce at least 100 pastors, youth pastors, church leaders and overseas missionaries. This doesn’t count all of the business leaders, construction workers, doctors, factory workers and so on who are now shining the light of Christ in their workplaces as a result of Matt and his team’s investment in them when they were teenagers!
Just like every professional baseball team has a farm club where young players are recruited, coached and trained to be game-winning professionals, every youth leader is a farm club for the church at large. You are working with the young players and training them to hit home runs and base hits for God as they prepare for the big leagues.
2. Student discipleship prepares teens to become world changers.
Teenagers are not just the church of tomorrow; they are the church of today! God can (and does) use them right now to impact entire communities with the hope of Jesus Christ!
That’s why the prophet wrote in Jeremiah 1:6-8,
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (NLT).
God loves to use the young to change the world. He did it with Jeremiah. He did it with Esther. He did it with the disciples. He can do it with your teenagers. They don’t have to wait until they grow up. Wouldn’t it be just like God to use young people to set the pace for the entire church? Just like He used a teenaged David to defeat Goliath and turn the tide of a battle, He could use your teenagers to do the same for your entire church!
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The average teenager has over 400 online and face-to-face friends which makes them poised to make a huge impact for Jesus now! If they are trained to share the GOSPEL and live their faith, they can be world changers now and not just after they graduate.
3. Discipleship provides a safe space for spiritual questioning.
Awhile back, Dare 2 Share produced a reality series called Gospel Journey Maui. We took a Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Seventh Day Adventist, a girl who thought God was a black woman who baked cookies (she got her view from The Matrix movies) and a surfing evangelical named Zane Black to Maui for eight days of adventure and spiritual discussions. The shocking amount of great footage that we captured was eventually edited down to a nine-episode curriculum.
One of the key things we discovered from this project is that teenagers are longing to have significant spiritual discussions that address deep theological questions. Effective discipleship relationships can become a centerpiece for these much needed conversations. This type of authentic, more intimate, relationship-driven conversation opens the door for Christian teenagers to better understand what they believe and why they believe it based on the timeless truths of God’s Word.
4. Student discipleship is an adoption agency.
Sadly, there are many teenagers today who have strained—or in some cases virtually no—relationship with one or both of their parents. They have no caring adult who will listen to them, discipline them, encourage them and believe in them.
But thank God that the church can provide a strong spiritual family to those teenagers who have a broken earthly family! The adoption language that the New Testament uses makes it clear that we have been adopted into the family of God as a result of our faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross (Galatians 4:4-8.) As a result, we have a Heavenly Father who will never leave us or forsake us and spiritual brothers and sisters who can encourage us!
Try This! ❯
Talk to your adult leaders this week about these five powerful reasons why discipleship multiplication matters. Ask them which reason they personally find the most compelling reason to pour into students’ lives.
5. Discipleship impacts a student’s relationship with Christ for a lifetime.
When you help students get an accurate, biblical view of who God is, who they are and what God wants from them, it impacts them up for a lifetime. A biblical understanding of these foundational truths will drive students deeper in their walk with God and wider into the world with His message of hope. This brings honor and glory to God and advances His Kingdom. Will every one of the students discipled through your youth ministry become a fully devoted follower of Jesus? Unfortunately, probably not. But if you can change the trajectory of a student’s walk with God by even a few degrees during their teen years, that slight shift can positively impact their path through life for decades to come. Even when you don’t see the results you’re hoping for, remember God’s promise in Isaiah 55:11:
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (NKJ).
These are just five of the reasons why it’s critical that you build Gospel Advancing Value #4—a disciple multiplication strategy—into your youth group’s DNA.
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!