In order for a discipleship group to be a discipleship group, it requires the commitment of a disciple. I think it’s crazy the commitments that things like sports, clubs, and music require of the youth these days. What’s sad is that for some reason, when it comes to seeking a commitment from youth in the Church, we tend to think that “it’s too much to ask” or “they are already too busy.” This is a challenge that, while true, is one that I tend to lean in to more than anything else. I believe that this greater level of commitment is what is necessary for real growth and success. Isn’t that why these other organizations demand it? Because they want to succeed and want the youth to succeed?
The challenge that we face then is: how do we get youth to make a greater commitment to a discipleship group? I have created a system in my own discipleship that protects the integrity and the disciplines that we have in place, while still being inviting to those that are interested in joining.
Strategy #1 – Set The Standard
The young men in my group have set their own standards that they are striving for. They have commitments to prayer, the Sacramental life, being Christ to their family, and witnessing to the other youth and families in the parish and in the community. This is a strategy in and of itself because now they have a group that is attractive to others who desire the same things. It’s like being on the winning team (humbly speaking of course).
Strategy #2 – Make The Invitation Open
Since we have made it clear what the goal of our group is, the guys know that no one can take that away from them. All of the guys know that they are free to invite others to the group, but because of the standards we have set, they are not going to invite anyone unless they can “hack it” (for lack of a better term). If they have a friend whom they know desires to have what the group offers, they invite them.
Strategy #3 – Have an Interview Process
I’m not sure interview is the right word, but in our group, we have a simple process that doesn’t judge a person desiring to be a part of our group, but gives them ways to step out if they find that it’s not what they are looking for. First, I invite them to come and meet the group (one meeting). Then, I ask them to commit to two months. This commitment gives them time to get to know the group more and be involved in more of what they do. After the two months, I check in with them and see if they would like to commit to the group. By committing to the group, they commit to striving towards the standards the rest of the group has set.
All of this can take some time to develop in your own discipleship group, but I can assure you that it’s worth it.