Developing students into disciple-makers is one of the key elements of a thriving Gospel Advancing Ministry, so let’s take a look at a few best practices that can help you nurture a growing pool of disciplers as you build your disciple multiplication strategy.
One of the most powerful discipleship relationships in the context of youth ministry happens when a student is able to lead their friend to Jesus and is then empowered to help that friend grow in their relationship with Christ. This is the beauty of an effective disciple multiplication strategy! The “funnel” of new disciple-makers is continually being fed by the students themselves!
Set Expectations Early
Right from the earliest stages of your adult-to-student disciple multiplication strategy you should begin to build in a challenge to the core students being discipled that they are being poured into so that they will, in turn, be equipped to meet with another student and pass on what they are learning about following Jesus. Setting the expectation of disciple cycles needs to be a high priority in your disciple multiplication strategy from the earliest stages. It will be much more difficult to add this key step later, if you don’t cast a vision for this ultimate outcome early.
Try This! ❯
Challenge your core students who are currently being discipled to begin to meet with another student so they can pass on what they are learning about following Jesus.
Will this expectation totally freak your students out? It doesn’t need to!
In the same way that you have helped your adult leaders develop a creative approach to life-on-life discipleship, work with your students and let them know that this doesn’t have to be something super formal. It can be as simple, and as bold, as messaging their friends on social media. This is a great context to begin spiritual conversations with their friends. Another super simple avenue for students to engage in this discipleship multiplication strategy is during their school lunch breaks. If you were able to motivate your students to utilize their lunch time at school for spiritual conversations, the transformation would be monumental! This isn’t to say that students wouldn’t benefit from a more formal curriculum and program. But don’t let that be a hindrance to the strategy.
Track Progress and Capture Stories
As a youth leader, odds are that you are highly relational person. Even if administrative functions come easily for you, we encourage you to recruit someone to keep track of all of these discipleship relationships. Finding someone with the gift of administration and a heart for making disciples who make disciples will be a huge long term blessing to you, the students and all the adults involved. One of the most helpful elements of tracking progress is capturing stories. Life transformation is inspiring. As your ministry grows and there is an increasing need for adults to disciple teens it will be these stories of life transformation that will inspire more people to get involved. Making the collection of stories a vital part of this strategy will be hugely beneficial and transformative.
Get Others Involved
At some point, maybe even very early on, you may need to look outside of your current volunteer team. Be on the lookout for men and women who have a heart for disciple multiplication. Look for people who are actively sharing their faith, have high integrity, humility and godly character. These are the sort of people you want pouring into the teens in your ministry.
If we can motivate our students to utilize their lunch time at school for spiritual conversations, the transformation would be monumental! Click To Tweet
A great way to go about identifying which adults to approach would be to involve the rest of the church staff and other church leadership to help make a list of people who you could approach to disciple students. As you describe your discipling strategy to the church leadership, clearly articulate what you are trying to accomplish and how you plan on getting there. Be prepared for the fact that, historically, many churches have defined discipleship as 2-3 people meeting at the same time every week for coffee and Bible study. There was typically a set curriculum, some specific training that a discipleship leader had to go through and an official stance on what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. If you are encouraging more of a life-on-life approach to discipling relationship through your youth ministry, expect some questions about how you anticipate the process working and be ready to explain any safe-guards you will put in place, e.g., two-to-one student to adult ratios, matching individuals up by gender, etc.
Build in Rewards
Generously reward the discipling behaviors you want to encourage! Write a note of encouragement. Buy your students a devotional. Organize a special pizza party night. Or plan a bigger event. “Three Generation Retreats” are one creative “reward” idea that carry a great return on invest. The idea is to coordinate simple, yet exciting, retreats for those that have bought into the disciple multiplication strategy. For example, if you have an adult who is discipling a student who is discipling a younger student, the three of them would receive a special invitation to a unique retreat. Because this wouldn’t be a whole youth group event, there would be a lot more unique opportunities for creative places to go for this kind of get-away. These could be planned for a couple times a year and serve the dual purposes of rewarding commitment and solidifying and deepening these discipling relationships.
Whatever strategies you choose to “feed the funnel,” remember the point: make disciples who make disciples. This is true at the leadership level and it’s true at the student level too. Be intentional, be creative, be flexible, keep it simple, and clearly communicate the vision.
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!