The following post was written by Jesse Campbell, Editor of Explore the Bible for Students. This is the second installment in a three-part series.
Covered in mud, caked in flour, sprayed with every color paint imaginable, dripping from the soapy slip & slide, and smiling this huge smile, one of my leaders walked up to me and said, “I am so perfectly exhausted right now.” He had just led his Disciple Now house of eleventh grade guys in door-to-door evangelism and then chased them all over the massive object lesson that was our mud fight. He was awake with his group until 3am the night before, still had another session to lead that night, would help us wrap things up Sunday morning, and he was not to be paid a dime. This was his ministry and he was spending himself on it. What a beautiful sense of exhaustion and what a worthy investment. “Your labor in the Lord…” I started to say, quoting part of 1 Corinthians 15:58. “…is not in vain,” he finished the verse for me; speaking through a mud-stained smile.
Three of the guys in his group would be baptized that weekend. I saw him in the crowd jumping up with his fists in the air to celebrate each one. As your adult volunteers spend themselves leading your students, you spend yourself leading your adult volunteers.
- Think about the small things. Be the one to hand each of your leaders his or her favorite coffee and, as you do, lift them up with a word of encouragement. Right now, put a note in your calendar for the Monday morning after Disciple Now to write thank-you notes for all of your adult volunteers sharing with them details of the fruits of their contributions.
- Pray quick prayers. Pull each adult volunteer to the side at least once during the weekend and pray aloud a quick prayer for each of them. Pray for them as spiritual runners in a spiritual half-marathon and pray prayers that are thoughtfully specific to each leader.
- Acknowledge their sacrifice. When you address the whole group in your opening rally on Friday night, invite your students to minister to their leaders by being respectful, appreciative, and clean. Point out to the students that many of your leaders are giving up time with their spouses, children, and nice comfortable couches to lead this Disciple Now weekend.
- Appreciate your hosts. The homeowner who allows a hoard of seventh grade boys into his or her home for a weekend is either incredibly generous, or unfamiliar with the destructive power of caffeinated middle school students. Either way, thank them for opening their homes so that ministry may take place within them and tell them that they are blessed by God for doing so. They join the ranks of countless people throughout the book of Acts like Lyida from Acts 16 and Philip from Acts 21.
- Equip Your Team. Well in advance of the weekend, be sure that every host family, every co-host, every driver, and every leader has a detailed itinerary for the event. Put lesson materials in your teachers’ hands well enough in advance for them to internalize each lesson. Remember that they do not have office hours with which to prepare three to four lessons in addition to their regular teaching responsibilities.
Each night, go house-to-house with your family and be a cheerleader for every house’s adults. Consider a master-teacher format for your Sunday morning services that weekend. The session material should finalize your Disciple Now lesson material while also standing on its own as an independent session. This way, you will not only help your leaders with some of the teaching load, but you will also ensure that students who join in with your Disciple Now crowd that Sunday morning without having attended the event will still be blessed by the session, even though they were not there for the previous sessions.
On Disciple Now Sunday, be the most exhausted person on your student ministry’s team because you exhausted yourself leading your leaders. In doing so, you will multiply both your influence and theirs.