As I continue to deepen my understanding of what discipleship is, I am also growing in my awareness that this approach is significantly different than what I have known of youth ministry in the past. As a youth minister, I was able to do what every youth minister dreams of doing…build a successful youth program. After being in the same parish for seven years, I really believed I had made major progress toward being successful and doing the things a youth minister should do. The one thing that has changed in me, and one of the biggest things I believe needs to be changed in order for youth ministry to be more effective, is that we must make ministry less about what we can do and more about what we can enable others to do.
When a rabbi calls someone to be his disciple, what it really means is that he believes that the one he is calling can do what he does. The relationship between the rabbi and the disciple exists in order to help the disciple do what the rabbi did. It doesn’t take long for a Christian to see this correlation to how Jesus taught and worked with the twelve and why he even had disciples. His plan all along was to equip and form his apostles to do what he was doing.
But what is it that we must strive to help others “do” when we are involved in youth ministry and discipleship is the focus? Here are a couple of ideas:
Others Should Become More Aware of God’s Loving Presence in Their Lives and Learn to Articulate That to Others
This is becoming more and more the primary goal I have with my own discipleship group. Every time we gather, I strive to make our time together a time to reflect on what God is doing in their lives and give them an opportunity to share it. Not only is it a good little nudge for them to be aware so that they have something to share, but when people share what God is doing, it changes those who hear it as well.
Practice the Disciplines of a Disciple
YDisciple has done a great job of articulating some good disciplines necessary to being a disciple of Christ (find them here). We use these in our group as a good starting point for how to grow each day in building the spiritual muscles necessary to follow Christ. Ironically, these all seem to be ways in which we can be more aware of and participate in what God calls us to do as well!
I have nothing against doing video studies or using a curriculum of sorts, but one thing that must change is that youth begin to understand that things like these are the reasons we get together and the purpose for which we exist. We must start worrying less about what materials we need to get through, how many times we have to meet, how many people are there, etc. and we must be more concerned with how they are doing and what God is doing in their lives. Besides, anytime I have these conversations with anyone it seems to change me more than anything else I could possibly come up with on my own.