If youth group is no longer meeting a social need we need to consider this question:
“Can we even compete to technology when it comes to the social need?”
We used to be able to say “Youth group is going to be epic this Wednesday so come and bring a friend.” All because we were going to serve a 30 foot banana split and play a fun game. Our banana split and game is nowhere as impressive as that game they are playing on their phone. It’s not more fun for them than the satisfaction they get sitting at home on their bed texting with twenty friends.
So if we can’t meet the social need then what we have left is our biggest asset and strength - We meet their spiritual need.
For the last two years discipleship has been on my heart. Not gather all the students together in a class or group and teach discipleship but real one on one discipleship. I drug my feet and even made a feeble attempt a few years ago to make a change.
I believe that over the next ten years, due to the fact that our church kids will be attending youth group and church less and less, we have to step up our ministry into their lives.
Our model is based off the LeaderTreks Discipleship Model.
Our strategy has three prongs:
Teach discipleship in our small groups once a year. Help spur conversations on what it is to be a disciple among the students. Explain and lead them towards becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
Discipleship Relationships. Because some students won’t immediately buy into a discipleship relationship they may need the teaching and discussion in their small group to nudge them in that direction.
Mentor relationships. Our volunteer team will be discipling our students, one leader with two students. This relationship will last until the student graduates. We will disciple students who want to be in this type of relationship and accountability. BUT because we have more students than our Sunday night volunteer team can handle I am in the process now, in our church, discovering other adults who could be a discipleship mentor with students. These mentors won’t be an active part of our Sunday nights but will be active in students’ lives. Our main tool will be? Did you guess it? A cell phone. We will meet face to face once a month outside of youth group and then communicate via text and phone each week.
Because most students will be hit or miss at youth group or even totally missing youth group this relationship with a caring adult will be a huge step in helping them continue in their faith upon graduation.
Parent Ministry. I’m stepping up my game in the world of parent ministry. I recently started meeting with the parents one Sunday night each month while their kids are in student church. In January I’ll be teaching a class for parents, “Foundation Builders: the discipleship journey with your child starts at home.” In this class I will show the need for parents to be the main disciple of their child and also give them practical help in doing so. Most parents aren’t discipling their child beyond taking their kid to church. Because we will see less and less of some students the parents’ role in teaching their child to follow Christ will be vital to their child’s spiritual growth and success.
With the changes in our world I believe that student ministry is going to take more work accomplished by more people, both adults and students, within our church to keep up with and even try to get ahead of where student ministry is heading over the next ten years.