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Toward a youth ministry that makes disciples (part 2)

The goal is to create a self-sustaining radical Christian. Today we’ll address the cost in terms of time and tomorrow what to do during that time. The cost (see yesterday’s blog) is somewhere north of 15,000 hours of discipleship. The failure rate at present is huge: most young people don’t even …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The goal is to create a self-sustaining radical Christian. Today we’ll address the cost in terms of time and tomorrow what to do during that time. The cost (see yesterday’s blog) is somewhere north of 15,000 hours of discipleship. The failure rate at present is huge: most young people don’t even continue going to church after they graduate from college, and of those, only a small percentage might be identified as “radical.” Given that, here are some thoughts:

1. You are going to have to go to a triage, or “remnant” strategy that has the senior pastor’s full backing for political cover.

2. Most parents rank what you’re trying to do as fifth on a list of priorities (sports and scholastics outrank you) according to a recent survey. Identify the few parents who will back your radical program – you’ll need them and you’ll need to spend time casting vision to them for their committed involvement. The others will go church-shopping, and that’s OK; sadly their kids are among those to whom Jesus said, “let the dead bury their dead.”

3. You are also going to need allies after your students graduate high school to seal the deal. An intense one or two year discipleship program like First Year Missions will add 5,000-10,000 to your discipling project. A great discipling ministry on campus can add 5 hours a week (anybody seen any good lists of links?) plus summers for a possible total of around 2500 hours. Find ministries you trust and form partnerships.

4. Cast Jesus’ radical vision and identify the students who want to go for it. You are going to give them one-on-one coaching and experiences that transform their lives. They are going to commit 15-20 hours a week, plus summers on missions and other intensive discipling activities, for a total of 1500 hours/year. Over four years, that’s close to 5,000 hours. So even at your best, you can only do a third of the job.

5. You’re going to need allies besides parents. Cast your vision to coaches, volunteers, teachers, and any church members who are crazy enough to sign up for such an impossible project.


Comments (2)

  • Alternative Goal:
    “Create a reproductive disciple.”

    Passage in John 12 on the Kernal of Wheat (Christ’s Grand Strategy) validates this and tell us that the sheaf of wheat that one seed reproduces numbers in the thousands of new reproductive seeds.

    I think that “self-sustaining” is a by-product not a result. Reproductive disciples are “one with the Father” and therefore self-sustaining.

    See http://www.spiritual-benchmarks.com/pdf/john.pdf for a fuller explanation and description including powerful prayer with power and authority.

  • I like “reproductive disciple.” If we want to argue words, I don’t suppose “self-sustaining” works at all given the fact that we are created to be spiritually dependent on God and interdependent on one another.

    My use of the term had more to do with the reality of a young person leaving home and leaving the faith.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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