Discipleship in Student Ministry

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?  

3 Minute Devotional: Psalm 23:4-6

psalms-bgrdEven when I walkthrough the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.. Psalm 23:4-6

(23:4) David uses a phrase, “valley of the shadow of death” to describe a time or place of extreme fear. This is a poetic word for darkness. Other meanings include, in the shade of death, shadow of death, deep darkness, terror and calamity. David is not referring directly to death. This verse has been widely misunderstood. David describes himself walking “through” the valley of the shadow of death. David also said that he is in the shadow and not in the substance. However, even in this close proximity to terror, David says that he will fear no evil. Why? Because of God’s presence there with him. The items that give David comfort are the shepherd’s “rod and staff.” These were the common tools of the trade for shepherds. The staff was mostly used for defense, fighting or walking.

(23:5) The shepherd has prepared a meal for David in front of his enemies. This shows that God has and continued to provide for David even in the face of persecution and hostility. David’s head is then anointed with oil. Oil means literally “fatness”. This term was used to describe richness or fullness. David is saying that God will not only provide for his basic needs, the meal, but will bless him above and beyond.

(23:6) In the final verse of the chapter David expresses his confidence in further blessings. The word, “mercy” has been said to be one of the most important words in the Old Testament. It can be described as kindness, good will, favor, grace, unfailing love and beauty. David says not only will goodness and mercy be with him, but also they will “follow him”. The shepherd constantly cares for and looks after his sheep. David even goes further by stating that all these wonderful blessings will follow him “all the days of my life.” There is an interesting pause in this verse. After the phrase, “all the days of my life,” David then says that he will dwell in the house of the Lord. David is focusing upon life after death in heaven. In conclusion, David states that he will have the Shepherd’s blessings throughout eternity through God.

What ways are you trusting God during dark times? How is God our refuge? 

3 Minute Devotional - Psalm 23:1-3

psalms-bgrd

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.     He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

(23:1) The word used for Lord in verse one is “Yahweh.” It means “life-giver,” “creator,” or “the one who is.” David the psalmist expresses his total dependence on Yahweh to provide to the point that he, David, will “not want.” This verse does not give any other reason for David’s confidence other than the lone fact that Yahweh is his shepherd. A shepherd is one who guides, protects and raises sheep from infancy to maturity.

 (23:2) The shepherd leads David to “green pastures.” This phrase is a description of a pasture or a dwelling place. Basically it is a place of rest and peace. David goes onto say that the shepherd leads him to “still waters.” It is common knowledge among shepherds that unless your sheep are brought before quiet, calm waters, they will not drink. David is saying that God will lead him to a place of rest where he can be rejuvenated and refreshed.

(23:3) The shepherd is said to “restore” David’s soul. The basic meaning of the word, “restore” is movement back to the point of departure. There were many times in David’s life that he strayed away from the Lord's commands. David is saying that God will bring his soul back when it strays away from God's plan. David also says that God will lead him in the “paths of righteousness.” Some other descriptions of the word, “righteousness” includes justness, honesty, and integrity. David says that God, after restoring his soul, will lead David to walk in justice, honesty and integrity.

How are you to follow the shepherd's lead today? What does it mean for God to restore your soul?