Beginning a relationship with Jesus is the first step in ministry. The next step is the starting line of the adventure of following Christ. We want students to grow to imitate Jesus.
One of the most important issues that student ministry faces is helping students take next steps. Some call it discipleship. Some call it sanctification. Some call it spiritual formation. Some call it spiritual growth. Some call it becoming Christ-like.
Whatever phrase you prefer, the principle remains the same. Jesus' call is for us to make disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
How to help students grow as disciples:
Help them feed themselves. Just like my son, Micah who is 16 months old needs me and my wife, Cassidy to feed him, so do our students who are new to following Jesus. We want students to learn how to grow on their own. Students need to know how to build spiritual habits of reading their Bible, prayer and accountability.
Connect in a small group with a mentoring leader. We want the group leader to follow-up with them on taking the next step of baptism and spiritual growth. Through relationships is where the most growth occurs.
What are we leading students to become? I think most ministries know how to express the gospel but do they have clear steps for people to grow into mature followers of Christ?
Questions to help lead students to grow spiritually: - Is there a clear step to connect new followers of Christ into small groups? - Are small groups open to new students in their existing groups? (inward or outward focused) Are your small group leaders equipped to help lead students to grow in their faith? Are they helping the student take the next step?
When the next steps are clear is when people will take the first step.
What do you think about helping students take next steps? How do you build a discipleship process?
I'm away at Student Life Urban Serve Mission Camp in Atlanta this week. I wanted to share my top visited blog posts a few times this week. Here is a post I wrote on spiritual growth last year.
Spiritual growth happens when disciplines are put in place to focus upon becoming like Christ. God has shown me that it is easy to become distracted with being “busy” and miss out on the joy of intentional focus upon God’s Word and prayer. Spiritual formation is much more than a class, but a daily walk with God. My goal is to become a better man of God personally so that I can impact more people publicly. Pharisees focus upon Spiritual growth as retaining knowledge. God’s Word is not meant only for information but transformation of hearts and lives! Spiritually mature people help those far from God know about the gospel through their words, actions, and attitudes! Spiritual growth leads a person from the bench and plugs them into the action of loving and reaching people that need the love of Christ.
Another area of my life I plan to grow in is to spend more time praying with my wife. Although we lead in ministry together, we can never get too busy ministering to others that we miss out on caring for each other. My prayer is that I will be a better spiritual leader in my marriage and one day my children. Spiritual disciplines are the heartbeat of growing to become like Christ. Without filling our hearts and minds with God’s Word and prayer, we can easily become swayed by the tide of the our “prayerless” culture.
The last aspect is to simply trust God in each decision and situation in life. God is strong enough to carry our burdens. Over the past three years I have been through extreme low times and extreme exciting times. God is showing me that He stays consistent with His provision, love and mercy. Knowing who God is fuels my desire to become more like Him. Spiritual growth is the process of becoming and living for Christ in all areas of life!
Discover. Grow. Go.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)