I originally wrote this for the Dare 2 Share Relational & Relentless blog, and then it was reposted by Real Life Ministries. So, I figured I might as well post it myself on my own site!
As I continue to strive toward making evangelism more central to our Student Ministry strategy at GFC the heart of what I ultimately want to accomplish is creating a culture of disciples who make disciples who make disciples. You can imagine my excitement when I came across a model and resources from a ministry that has been birthed out of a church that is doing just that!
I was introduced to Real Life Ministries when I attended one of their “Disciple-Shift” conferences this past spring. What unfolded at the conference as well as through the books authored by their Pastor, Jim Putnam, was my introduction into a model of making disciples who make disciples that best fits a small group ministry and thus is very transferrable to my Student Ministry setting. While the model is much bigger than the glimpse I will provide through this blog, I will highlight 3 of my biggest takeaways that are priorities on my list of implementation for this next ministry year.
1. One of the clearest disciple growth and development plans I have ever seen.
Real Life frames the spiritual growth of a disciple within a circle that reflects the natural development of a person. It starts with a section labeled “Spiritually dead” which emphasizes the need for people to first put their faith and trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once they have been born again, the four stages of development read as follows: infant, child, young adult, and parent. Using these stages of development, Real Life Discipleship puts spiritual terms and indicators on these stages so you can see how disciples should develop in their spiritual journey. This practical framework is an amazing tool and serves as a great exercise to chart out where each of your students is at.
2. The development of each disciple does not fall solely to the leader of the ministry, or small group.
As we implement this model into our Student Ministry, specifically our small groups, the job of our small group leaders will be 2-fold when it comes to this area. First, they will be the ones to know exactly where their students land in the spiritual development process. Secondly, they will have a good idea what that students next step in spiritual maturity will be. It will not be up to them to get that student to make that next step. This is where the fun and messiness of discipleship kicks in. Another student in their small group, or in our Student Ministry as a whole, is probably best suited to help them take that next step. This way students will grow as they help others grow. It moves discipleship from a curriculum based approach to a life on life approach and by including our students in the development of other students they are learning part of how to make disciples by hands-on involved in the process.
3. Bible-storying becomes the most effective model in creating space in our small groups for this type of discipleship to happen.
Bible-storying is a way of doing Bible study that includes 3 basic steps.
- Someone in the group tells the story of scripture from memory (but not memorized like a memory verse) in a very conversational way.
- The group then opens their Bibles and walks through the story verse-by-verse to review and rebuild the story.
- The group then interacts by asking some very simple but probing questions about the story:
- “What does this story reveal to us about God?”
- “What does this story reveal to us about man?”
- “Who or what do I personally identify with from the story?”
- “Based on what I’ve learned, what will I do to grow in my faith?”
To give you a better idea of what this looks like you can check out a sample of a Bible-storying curriculum for teenagers that I reviewed by CLICKING HERE.
I highly encourage you to become more familiar with Real Life Discipleship! If you can attend one of their DiscipleShift conferences then you should do so. You should definitely pick up the two books that deal with introducing and implementing this strategy, both authored by Jim Putnam:
Real Life Discipleship, less than $15 on Amazon.
Disciple Shift, also less than $15 on Amazon.
Do you have an effective way that you are making disciples who make disciples? What resources are you using to accomplish this goal in your ministry? If you are already familiar with Real Life Discipleship, what are your thoughts on it?
Other than aging myself, which I’m not all that excited about doing since I’ve learned that being in your mid-30s in Student Ministry is considered “old” by most of my peers (sorry for those of you in your 40s and 50s), I’m rather excited about taking my son on his first Student Ministry trip. I can’t believe that my oldest son will be going into Middle School next year and as a 6th grader he and his classmates are invited to join the Student Ministry on their first trip. Here are a few of the reasons that I am totally excited about this experience:
His first Student Ministry experience will be with Dare 2 Share. It would have been fun if my son’s first StuMin experience would have been an all-nighter, camp, ski trip, etc. However, it will be life-changing and transformational since it is a Dare 2 Share conference. There aren’t many organizations that I can say that about, but with Dare 2 Share I know the weekend experience will grow him in his faith, equip him to be able to communicate the Gospel, give him the opportunity to share his faith within the conference experience, and challenge him to apply what he learns immediately upon returning home and to school the following week. Dare 2 Share is amazing and I know it will deliver!
Additionally, my son is entering in to the ministry that I have been called to. I have been excited for a few years now for my son to be in Student Ministry with me. But something significant dawned on me this week as I faced this immediate reality. He, as someone very significant in my life, will now get to share in something that is significant in my life as well: Student Ministry. Obviously, as his father, I take seriously my responsibility to raise him up in his faith. Being his parent is far more important to me than being his Pastor. But to get to be both is going to be more special than I realized.
As you can see, because of who I am to my son (father…and pastor) and because of what his first event with Student Ministry is going to be, you can see why I am so excited for this powerful weekend.
Giddy like a Middle School Girl,
I had the opportunity to attend Dare 2 Share’s Follow the Leader training back in October when Greg Stier and Co. came to Chattanooga, TN. It was an encouraging afternoon and the training, as always, was spot on. I’m not aware of another organization that is out there that can match the passion for Youth Leaders and the mission we are called to in being leaders of youth that Dare 2 Share exemplifies.
They are now making this training available next Tuesday, December 11, via webinar. You do not want to miss this training! I highly encourage you to sign up for this event. In addition to the great training they are offering a cool FREEBIE to everyone who signs in as well as discounted registration to this year’s FOLLOW Tour, Dare 2 Share’s annual student evangelism training conference. Make time to participate. You won’t be disappointed.
In anticipation of going through Dare 2 Share‘s Gospel Journey Maui this summer, we took the opportunity to do a “test run” this past Sunday as it was the last day of Spring Break for our students. We did the, “Is it religion or relationship?” episode of the curriculum (episode 5 of 9).
In order to build a little excitement around doing something completely out of the ordinary on a Sunday morning with our teens (ORDINARY = worship set, teaching, games, announcements) we leaned into the idea of a Hawaiian theme for the morning. Instead of our normal theater style seating for the morning we brought in round tables to cater to the discussion time. Here is a quick run through of what we did for our Gospel Journey Maui Sunday.
- As kids were coming in that morning we had a limbo contest going on prior to our program time starting.
- We then opened with a 90 second trailer of Gospel Journey Maui.
- After the trailer we awarded our limbo winner with a box of Starbursts and Skittles.
- Next was our hula-hoop competition that lasted all of 3 seconds. The winner received a box of Almond Joy candy bars.
- I then explained the idea of Gospel Journey Maui and our potential plans for the summer.
- We rolled tape (32 minutes).
- Everyone engaged in small group discussions around tables for about 20 minutes (some small groups naturally sat together but for the most part each table was rather eclectic).
- We then concluded our time with fan voting for the best dressed Hawaiian themed outfit. The student won a box of tropical Skittles.
It was a fun morning and a great way to preview our potential summer plans. This was fairly strategic as I wanted to gauge response from students since the format is so out of the ordinary from what they are used to. They probably didn’t warm up to the cast of GJM since we jumped in mid stream of the curriculum, however when we do it over the summer and repeat this episode the dynamic will be that much different because they will have grown with the cast and progressed through the curriculum as well. I’m going to put some questions out on our Facebook page to receive student feedback before we actually make a final decision on the summer.