In my first student ministry position there was a core group of around 15 and a weekly attendance of 30-40. Relationships with a group this size was not a problem. I knew everyone and was able to get close with each one who wanted. I remember those one on one conversations. The questions that arose were challenging to me, it was truly a two way relationship. It is the most rewarding experience when you are able to see up close and personal the way God begins to change a person.
At my current church the ministry is not so small and those deep meaningful relationships have not happen. Part of the reason is the size of our group. With a regular group of 80-90 students each week it is hard for me to get to know each student like i would like. Maybe you are in the same boat I am and your group is just to big to be close and personal with each student. What do you do to stay connected with students?
Jesus’ model of discipleship is definitely one we should follow. Wherever Jesus was there was a crowd, a core group, and a chosen few. Let’s use that model.
Numerous times Jesus ministered to the crowd. He gave general instruction to how we are to live as Christians. In the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Again in Matthew 13 it says “…he sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered..” and another time in Matthew 14 he tried to get away after he learned of John the Baptist death but he couldn’t he ended feeding the entire crowd that day.
It seems that even when he tries to get away with the core that the crowds kept coming. They wanted to be around Jesus because of what He could do for them. The core stayed around because of what he had already done for them. He gave them a purpose and a calling. He was able to do life with the core. They traveled and ministered together and saw miracle together, examples being the healing of the Centurions daughter and the paralytic. In this group, even though it’s the core you will have a few who stray, like Judas. They seem all in but they are not.
The Chosen Few
Inside of the core group there was still a few that Jesus spent more time with. They were the ones sitting next to him at the table. They were the ones who were supposed to be praying in the garden. Jesus knew the importance of focusing on Peter, James, & John. There was need for personal, specific, friendship and instruction. That friendship led to truly changed lives.
Why does this matter?
This affects the way I do ministry. Because I cannot get as personal as I would like with each student it is important that I get as close as I can to out adult leaders and parents so they can follow the same model of discipleship. In the past I have encouraged our small group leaders to focus on one student and encourage that student to focus on a younger student, etc…
- I am trying to connect with the crowd by being where they are. They see me at their sporting events and on their school campus.
- I am connecting with the core at out weekly discipleship time called Thirst.
- Also this year I am being intentional about spending one on one time with a few guys in our student ministry.
What other ways do you recommend?