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Discipleship is Tough!

November 23, 2010

Discipleship is difficult work. Paul stated it best in Colossians 1:28-29 when he describes discipleship as labor that demands energy and dedication to properly accomplish the task.  Since discipleship is a laborsome task that requires long-term commitment, it often becomes neglected. Andy Harrison described this process as a sports car and a locomotive: “Discipleship is not a program; it is a process. It’s not a sleek, red sports car that burns rubber and gets you and one suitcase there in a hurry, but rather, it is a locomotive that slowly leaves the station, containing the strength to transport an unfathomable amount of cargo. Being committed to the task means that we cannot become impatient and bail when things aren’t moving at the pace we desire. Time is required to present each of your students as ‘mature in Christ.”

So how do we as student pastors create an environment for students to become mature disciples of Christ? At Eastwood, discipleship is the heartbeat of our student ministry.  Our primary goal is to challenge parents to disciple their students at home as we partner with them through discipleship groups at church.

Family Discipleship

As student pastors, we must stress the significance of parents discipling their children.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 teaches us that discipleship is a parent’s primary role in the life of their child. For far too long student pastors and churches have allowed the church to be the primary discipler in the life of a student. We must ensure that parents fill that role by consistently resourcing, guiding and encouraging them as they disciple their children. Some of the things we encourage parents to do are:

  • Family Devotion Times
  • Seizing “God Moments” with their family
  • Having spiritual conversations
  • We also suggest books, articles and resources to encourage discipleship

Discipleship Groups (D-Groups)

  • Our main purposes for D-Groups are accountability and discipleship. Students will be challenged by their leaders and fellow group members to live out their faith.
  • Adult leaders are assigned to a small group of students (8 max) who are in the same grade and have similar interests.
  • Leaders invest six years in this group of students. For example a group begins in 7th grade and the same leader stays with them until they graduate. This allows the leader to become the minister of that group.
  • Most of our events and activities are planned through these groups, which allows the students to grow together with each other and their leader.
  • The primary responsibility for the leader is to model Christ to the students.  One of the best ways this can be done is through life-on-life discipleship as the students see their leaders live out their faith as they spend time with them outside of church.

Discipleship Retreat

  • Every year we go on a Fall Discipleship Retreat which kicks off the new year of school as well as the new year for D-groups.
  • All of our D-Group Leaders attend this event. The focus of the weekend is for each group to spend time together and get to know each other better.
  • We have team building activities where each D-group works together to complete certain tasks that are designed to build trust within the group.
  • There is a guest speaker who speaks on the topic of discipleship and following each session, D-groups have break-out session to discuss the life application of the message.

Our ministry believes that if students experience and understand discipleship, then they will take ownership of their faith. Then they will begin to understand what it means to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength.

What things are you doing in your ministry to help disciple students?

This article was also posted in Lifeway’s Youth Worker Journal. You can access the link to the magazine here.

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