The following post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of LifeWay Student Ministry
Six months from right now there will be students from your ministry who walk across a graduation stage. It will be the close of a chapter and the opening of a new one for them, and for your ministry as you say goodbye to a senior class. Academic and extracurricular achievements will be celebrated as students and their families reflect on the high school and middle school years. As you reflect on the life of each of those students, what accomplishments will you remember? What will you quietly celebrate in your mind as you reflect on the discipleship journey of each student that leaves your ministry?
This is an important question to consider…before graduation day. As we close out 2014, spend some time thinking about the discipleship journey that you have planned for your students beginning in 2015 and beyond. What is the path that you are preparing for them? Is there a wise discipleship plan? In a post earlier this year I explained how a wise discipleship plan must be focused on Christ, be rooted in Scripture, and lead to application.
A wise discipleship plan has a lot to do with your choice for curriculum and Bible study, but it is not solely a curriculum issue. A wise discipleship plan will also influence how you train your leaders, plan your events, and how you develop yourself as a leader and discipler. These are all topics that we will be covering in the next few weeks on the blog, but before we get to them I want to pull your mind back to that day six months from now when your seniors are walking across the stage at graduation.
If you are in student ministry leadership then we can agree that you want the best for these seniors. You want them to graduate as students who love the Lord and follow Him. You want them to be a disciple that makes other disciples. We all want those things, yet there are many student ministries that don’t consistently operate from a wise discipleship plan. We want the results, yet curriculum is chosen haphazardly, leaders are barely trained, and events are conducted with very little strategy or connection to the ministry and vision of the church.
Developing a wise discipleship plan that will help you approach graduation day, and every day for that matter, with confidence is something that will take a lot of your time. Simply put, there isn’t a shortcut to this, but it is worth it. As I said, I will be covering the elements of a wise discipleship plan over the next few weeks here on the blog, but here are a few things to get you started as you think about implementation into your own ministry:
- Talk to other youth pastors in your community. I can make a compelling case for each church having their own unique context, but I would also argue that the best people to understand your context are the ones who also do ministry in your town or region. Take some time in the next couple of weeks to connect with them and talk about how they do student ministry. You might find someone that you can learn from, someone that you can help teach, or someone that will become an ally in reaching your region for Christ. Perhaps you will find all three. One of the most underutilized resources that student pastors have at their disposal are the other local student pastors. After all, we are in this for the sake of the “K”ingdom, not our personal “k”ingdoms.
- Take some time to write down what you want to celebrate from a discipleship point of view when your seniors walk across the stage. Make sure it is gospel-centered and driven, not just a list of character traits that they could learn by reading the signs on the wall at your local YMCA. Remember that only Jesus brings real and lasting transformation. That list can become a target for you as it now begins to drive your planning and ministry strategy.
- Pray. Over the next few weeks pray and ask the Lord to speak wisdom into your heart and your mind about how to disciple a group of people at the most critical time of their lives. The best plans in the world will amount to nothing in the long-term if God isn’t in it. You know that. You also know that this faith isn’t an excuse to be lazy and unprepared. Allow your time with the Lord in prayer to drive you to action like never before.
There’s still time to impact those students who will be walking across a stage six short months from now. There’s also no time to lose. Check back here next week as we continue this series on building a wise discipleship plan by talking about developing leaders with wisdom.