YM+ Chat - "Helping Students Take Next Steps towards Christ"

Today, Blake Appleby and I had a conversation about the importance of next steps in student ministry. How do we help students understand salvation? How do we explain baptism? What happens after baptism to grow?

I use a few resources to help make next steps as clear as possible:

1. Once a student makes a commitment to Jesus, we ask them to meet us at the connect table in the back of the room. - We have students fill out connect cards with their info and what decision they make. - We give them a free Bible (We use the "5" minute Bible or the Simple Truth Bible) as a help for them to start reading the Bible.  - We include a baptism brochure in the Bible. It includes questions and scripture explaining the purpose of baptism. It is simple to explain the basics of baptism on the spot.

2. The week after the decision, we contact them and encourage them to be baptized. We always seek to talk to the parents to help the family in the process. Remember, parents are the primary spiritual influence in a student's life.

3. We connect them to their small group leader to be mentored and build relationships with other students. Growth happens the best with caring adults who mentor them.

This is definitely not a definitive explanation of next steps, but it is a start. This is just the beginning of the process of helping students follow Christ.

What steps do you have to help students follow Christ? 

Helping Students Make Next Steps

How do we lead students to become like Jesus in such a busy world? Spiritual growth takes time. You can't microwave faith. Spiritual growth is a process. In my experience, people usually have an unclear line on the next steps. Usually it is to trust Jesus as Savior and be baptized. Sometimes there is more to it. Sometimes we let people figure things out on their own.

All that to say, do you have a process that you can easily explain to a 6th grader? If we can communicate something to a 6th grade student and they can understand it, then it is clear.

We have tried to simplify the next steps for our students to connect:

Weekly Gathering: We invite students to attend "Source," our weekly gathering for students.. We want them to experience worship, relevant Bible teaching and connect in a small group. Our vision is for students to imitate Christ and influence the world.

Teaching with next steps in mind: Communicating the gospel to students is just as important to how they respond. Teaching should always have the big picture of the gospel in each message. Students must see God's Story and how their story intersects. Spend time explaining the Jesus of the Bible and not the Jesus of pop culture. Explain the background of scripture and paint the picture of what it means to know the God of the universe.

-Students need to understand they are lost without hope apart from Jesus -Students must see Jesus as THE only hope for their lives. -Students need a safe place to process what it means to surrender to Jesus. -Students need to see that Jesus saved them FOR something just as much as FROM their past.

A few clarifying questions to ask about next steps: 

Are new students feeling accepted and loved when they walk in the doors of the church? Do you meet before and pray for students with your leaders? Do students know how to respond and be counseled upon what it means to follow Christ? Do leaders know how to counsel students during the response in the big group service? How do you explain salvation? How do you explain baptism?

What thoughts do you have about leading students to make next steps spiritually?