In the last several years, small group discipleship has caught on significantly in many progressive churches across America. But many youth ministries got a jump on the rest of the Body of Christ. Twenty years ago church and parachurch youth ministries had seen the incredible impact small group discipleship was having on teens. It's not surprising the small group ministry is so appealing to kids—the interaction, the relationships, the opportunity to take in spiritual truth by talking about it—and the pizza!
But there is a big difference between "just another Bible study," and real, biblical, discipleship. Here are five issues that make all the difference:
1. Keep the Vision Clear
- Challenge your kids to a vision. In Matt 4:19, Jesus started his "small group discipleship" with a clear call to a clear vision. He was challenging them to get outside themselves, and follow Him. He was calling them to learn about Him and pass on what they learn to others. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (NIV)
- Remind them of the vision. One good blow-your-socks-off message at the beginning of the semester is not enough. On a weekly basis, you should remind your students of why we are doing this stuff…"I'm committed to helping you learn how to live exciting and dynamic Christian lives so that you can take what you learn and pass it on to others."
- "How you get them is how you keep them." We should be reminded that we want to call kids to discipleship on a high level. They respond so well to great causes and visionary appeals. Why waste your time trying to entertain them or reproduce the things they already get at school, athletics and the movies. We have a call to something eternally significant and satisfying beyond anything this world has to offer.