Taking students down a discipleship path

When a non-believing student becomes a new believer that is one of the great moments I get to experience in ministry.

However, the question arises, what plan or strategy do you have in place to get this student the basic information he/she needs to live a new life?  For me, when a teenager comes into a relationship with the Lord, I almost expect them to do a complete 180 degree turn and just start doing better things, making wiser choices and following the Lord whole heartedly.  Unfortunately, that is a VERY unrealistic point of view to have.  We cannot merely expect our students to turn right around and become missionaries.  But we can put a plan in place to help them get to that point over time.

A perfect example of this is the life of Paul. In Acts 9:1-19a, Paul comes into a relationship with the Lord.  Then, in Acts 9:19b-31, he becomes a missionary.  Although this seemed like a very a quick process, his transformation and acceptance was not an overnight phenomenon.  It took time.  This is the example and the approach that we need to take when a new believer comes into a relationship with Christ.  Let me explain.

We need to first win a student into a relationship with Christ.  This is done through relational time invested in a student over time. It doesn’t happen overnight.  By spending time with each student you are “earning the right to be heard”. Then, over time, you win the respect of the student enough to present him the Gospel of Christ.

But, more importantly than use spending time with different students, you should be praying for them.  After all, no matter how much time and effort we invest in a student, we cannot make them do anything. I know our power of persuasion is great but we need God’s power more.  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit working in them that they will enter into a loving relationship with Christ.

walking-down-a-wooded-pathSecondly, we need to give them the basics of the faith.  As I mentioned earlier, it is completely unrealistic for us to believe a new-believer will automatically know everything and be a perfect example to others once they choose to follow Christ.  It is like expecting an alcoholic who choose to be sober 1 day to never struggle or be tempted with alcohol again.  We cannot expect that.  However, as in Paul’s example, right after he came to know Christ as his savior, Acts 9:19b says, “Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus”.  Paul needed to learn from more mature believers so that when he went out to share about Christ to others he would know what to say.

So we have to give new believers the knowledge of what it means to follow Christ. Over my student ministry career, I have found 2 great resources for building a spiritual foundation for students:

  1. “My First 30 Quiet Times” by Ty Saltzgiver.  This is a great resource for a new believer and can be a great 1-on-1 opportunity between a student and a leader to walk through the basics of the faith.
  2. Topical Memory System by the Navigators.  This is a great scripture memorization tool that was vital for me when I started really pursuing the Lord when I was 18.  Now, 17 years later, I still know many of those verses by heart.

Lastly, we need to let them spread their wings.  In v. 20, it says that “at once, he (Paul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God”. As students learn more and more about Christ and have a sure foundation, they have to be able to go into their community and share about who Christ is. That doesn’t mean they just go into their schools or position themselves at the front of the local Walmart shouting and screaming at people. But, as they learned from the mentors in their lives, they need to go and share about Christ, earning the right to be heard, to others. And then, God willing, they can start to mentor, disciples and rise up others as they meet Christ.

Thus, they can start taking people down a discipleship path as well.

So, what do you think? What are your expectations of students when they first come to know Christ?  What is your plan to give them all the knowledge and understanding they need to be effective witnesses for Christ? Share your thoughts below or on social media using #ymsidekick as part of your tweet.

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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