As I talk with Youth Leaders about Deep & Wide Youth Ministry one thing is always consistent with every conversation. They either lean heavily towards Discipleship (deep) or they are all about Evangelism (wide). The question that gets asked regardless of what side of the Deep or Wide camp they fall in is, “How do I do Discipleship and Evangelism and remain effective at both?”
The secret is this: You have to approach them as one in the same!
I know. Crazy, right?!?! We’ve been taught that evangelism is completely separate from discipleship and that discipleship is unique from evangelism. However, they are not separate as we have tended to compartmentalize them. More accurately, they are interwined and inter-dependent on one another. The key to understanding this is grapsing THE Cause…
* Although there are many good causes that your teens could get involved with, there is only one cause that they can participate in that will change lives both now and forever—THE Cause. THE Cause is a culturally relevant term for what has traditionally been called “The Great Commission.” Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make other disciples who in turn would make more, igniting an exponential movement. But much of the exponential nature of Jesus’ last and lasting mandate has been lost in today’s youth ministry culture. Instead of youth ministry being a vehicle to make disciples who make disciples, it has become a Christian subculture that is focused on more meetings, more curriculum and more entertainment.
But there is hope. Jesus left his followers with a plan, not only to launch THE Cause, but to sustain it until He returns. As His followers we have a divine calling to accomplish this mission He left for us. THE Cause is found in Matthew 28:19-20,
All authority in heaven and earthy has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
In this passage, Jesus is telling His disciples to “go wide” with THE Cause as they “grow deeper” in relationship with Him. The book of Acts unfolds as the visible expression of this mandate in real time. The early disciples went wide with THE Cause from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and, ultimately, to the ends of the earth. Along the way, they strengthened the believers to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ through modeling, teaching and written letters, which we call “epistles.”
Launching THE Cause requires you to motivate, equip and unleash your teenagers for relational, relentless evangelism among their friends. But sustaining THE Cause long term requires you to push your teenagers to grow deeper in their relationship with and dependence upon Christ.
Going Wide. When your teenagers begin to go wide with the gospel among their unreached friends, then THE Cause is beginning to get accomplished in your community.
Growing Deep. Helping your teenagers grow deep is what empowers THE Cause and brings exponential growth. When your teenagers are connected to God and living lives of obedience to Him in the power He provides, they, in turn, will motivate and equip other teens to join them in going wide and growing deep. Then THE Cause can keep going strong.
*from Unleashing THE Cause: An overview of Deep & Wide Youth Ministry