I believe strongly in the power of Christ-centered discipleship.
When I entered student ministry, I felt a strong calling on my life to disciple young people and make them disciples.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, Zane that was some real earth-shattering insight,” but hear me out.
I believe most of us in student ministry felt the same way when we entered into the ministry.
However, I quickly realized that not only was discipleship lacking and needed desperately in this generation but also that these students needed more than just discipleship from an adult.
These students needed to see, hear and communicate real, genuine, Christ-centered life with each other.
After all, if there is one thing that never really changes, it is the impact that our peers have on our lives.
Upon researching this matter, I realized that there are very few opportunities for these students to experience this in most church settings. I mean, allowing a group of teenagers to be alone in your church building could cause huge turmoil, not to mention the destruction they will likely do to the church.
While I agree there needs to be some sort of supervision, I believe that God has called me to help develop student-to-student discipleship in a format that will help students see and experience God in a deeper way.
I believe student-to-student discipleship must take place in our church, and here are a few reasons why.
1. Jesus Taught It
We may not know exactly how old the disciples were, but common Jewish practice tells us that they were younger than Jesus. We know that Jesus was around 30 when he began his ministry and called the disciples.
Many scholars believe that Peter was the oldest disciple, and he was no older than his mid-20s, leaving the others to be younger than that.
With this insight, we can see that Jesus believed in the power of God-called young people. Jesus spent many hours teaching and leading these young men, but we also see that Jesus left them alone together on several occasions.
The best-known occasion is when Jesus instructed them to gather in the upper room and wait on the coming of the Holy Spirit. We can see that Jesus taught what needed to be taught, but He also prepared them to be alone.
There are a few other instances, like when Jesus met the woman at the well and sent the disciples away.
As a student minister, it is my prayer to lead students to a place where they will teach and lead others as I follow the example of Jesus Christ.
2. It Creates Continuous Accountability
Student ministers spend a lot of time in student venues. We tend to be right in the middle of all of their activities doing life with them.
Our presence and the presence of other adults in their lives is important, but we do not spend the same amount of time with them as their peers.
I know that Jesus should ultimately be their guide and they should always look to him, but there is something about accountability from a friend.
I know we often do things alone, and in our individualistic culture we desire to be alone, but there is power in numbers.
I know from my own struggles that God allows healing when we confess our sins, issues, and shortcomings to others.
I think that most people will agree that these conversations are better had when we know the people we are talking to are in the same boat as us.
3. Spiritual Growth is Aided by Discipleship
Accountability creates growth, and that is what the goal of our Christian walk should be. We should desire to grow closer to Christ every single day.
I believe that this growth will happen among our students when they are placed in positions of leadership and allowed the opportunity to lead.
I believe that too many times we hinder the growth of individuals because we are not sure they are ready to lead or speak up.
Can we be honest for just a second? Who is ever really ready to lead?
The truth is that we grow when we are allowed those chances.
What better place for future leaders to grow than in our student ministries? I believe that every student minister will agree with me and say that our goal is to see growth in our students.
Are we placing them in areas to see successful growth when we do not give them opportunities to disciple others?
4. The Church Needs It
In 2019, the church needs to experience a growth of true discipleship. I cannot speak for all churches, but many of the churches that I am involved with are truly lacking in genuine discipleship.
They are not pouring into one another or putting their selfish desires aside to lean into Christ.
I believe that God has given all of us in student ministry an opportunity to help strengthen the church through student to student discipleship.
Just a quick look at church history will prove that most revivals have been sparked because young men and women were on fire for God. God used them to spread the Gospel in powerful ways.
I do not write this as an expert on how to make this happen in your church, but I know that as student ministers, we should advocate for student-to-student discipleship every chance we get. We should also seek creative ways to allow these groups to form on our church campuses. God called us to this position, and therefore He will equip us to do his work and teach the next generation to disciple like no other generation.
Love God, Love People, Serve the World
Student Minister/Associate Pastor
First Baptist Church of Guin