The vision of our youth ministry is to be a youth ministry that makes disciples who make disciples. Not terribly flashy, but it gets to the point. And, yes, I’ve thought through the fact that the Great Commission was given to the apostles, and that disciple-making is a function of the church. Nonetheless, we want to raise up teenagers who take responsibility to be a witness, and in that witnessing, help others get to know Jesus better. “Making disciples who make disciples” is an easy and memorable way to communicate that.
So lately I’ve been thinking about discipleship. Here are three of those thoughts.
Discipleship is a long process. Seriously. Baking a cake takes what, an hour? A seminary degree takes three years if you’re going full time (or considerably longer if you’re taking my approach). But being formed into a disciple of Christ is a lifetime process. One could argue that the timer doesn’t ding on this side of eternity, depending on how you define “disciples.” Which leads me to my second thought.
We as a youth ministry must be intentional about what we seek to impart. I can imagine most hands-to-palms right now with a chorus of “Duhs.” Well, I’m slow on the pick-up. If we have a teenager who comes consistently from 6th to 12th grade, we get about two hours a week for seven years. That’s 728 hours total (not including breaks or extra retreats or stuff like that) out of 61,152 hours that a person has in seven years. That’s 1.19%. Not a lot of time to impress upon a teenager the “whole counsel of God.” This is another reason that I’m thankful that it is not our job alone to make disciples. I know that we’re not factoring in time with adult leaders or more involvement. But still, it’s not a lot. 1 percent. This is one reason that parents are the primary disciple-makers of their kids. Time. (And love and hugs and other things that impact a person’s ability to disciple others.)
Nonetheless, God is faithful in the discipleship process. It has been very encouraging to see passion rise in the lives of some of our teenagers. To hear their increased interest in the Bible and in worship. To hear them practically addressing the idols in their lives with repentance and renewed faith. God can take 1 percent and turn it into seven baskets of leftovers. Or something like that. He does what we cannot. Which is good because, well, we cannot.