Today I took part in a discussion on Balancing Evangelism and Discipleship in Youth Ministry. I want to no take time to write down my thoughts on the subject.
When it comes to evangelism in the church it is either there and happening or not. As one person said “If evangelism is not first on the agenda then its not on the agenda”. Its the same in youth ministry. We are either making disciples of students which leads to evangelism or you are not.
How do we make sure we are making disciples and not just herding cats, as it often feels like we are doing?
I think there are 3 important things to make sure you are creating an atmosphere of discipleship in your ministry.
1. The Word of God is at the center
2. you think small over large
3. you emphasize personal spiritual growth (accountability)
The Word of God must be the center
If you put fun and games as the center piece for your group then your group will expect fun and games. They will come to the fun club and expect social time and be disappointed when they do not get an awesome game time each week. I know we are ministering to 12-18 year olds and we have to attract them but, fun and games cannot be the MAIN thing.
We have to show students that the Word of God really is life-giving and life-changing. We do this by showing them each week when we as youth leaders bring and use our bible. Don’t be the youth leader who shares a feel-good self-help talk not from the Bible. If God has brought them to us then we are responsible for sharing His Word first and not ours alone.
Isaiah 55:11 in the message says this:”So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
Think Small Over Large
While it is my job as a youth pastor to pray and come up with awesome talk from God’s Word, that cannot be the main focus of our time together. Since preachers want to preach it becomes difficult to allow small group time the “prime time” at our times together. However, if you do you will see more application to your talk and your students will open up to their small groups more that they ever would in the large group time. This also allows you to do what I’m gonna talk about next.
Emphasize Personal Spiritual Growth (Accountability)
If you are going to allow Students to come and not be accountable some how, shame on you! How are students ever going to see that spiritual growth is serious if you do not take it seriously? We must challenge students and set a high standard for their daily and weekly spiritual lives. If we do not challenge them they will never live up to their full potential in Christ and most likely become a part of the overwhelming group of young adult who stop attending church when they are out of high school.
So how do you emphasize this?
You must ask some tough questions each week. The way people process things is through dialouge and asking questions is key to showing students your serious about their spiritual growth. When you ask them tough questions they are going to hate it at first but then start to realize you are serious about it.
Here are a few examples of some questions we use in small group.
– when were you the closet with God this week?
– when were you the furthest from God this week?
– How are you doing with reading your Bible?
– How can we pray for you?
These questions are used as diagnostic questions. It gives us a glimpse into their spiritual lives. When we know where they are then we know where we need to take them. We are not looking for a long answer to these questions just a short answer to acknowledge they are thinking about their spiritual lives.
If we emphasize discipleship and really stick to it then evangelism will be a natural by-product of their growing lives in Christ. then the challenge becomes teaching them how to share their story of faith in Christ.
That’s all for now,