Student ministers, leaders, and volunteers all over the country are evaluating the most effective student discipleship processes. Inevitably student ministries “feel” successful when we have big numbers turn out to our events and programs. However, one must consider is any of this making the students we interact with become more like Jesus? I’m not saying events, programs, or even fun trips are a bad thing to put on our annual calendars but, do these things flow into a greater purpose or strategy? Are we leading students to become more like Jesus or are students showing up on Wednesday nights and simply having a “fun” time and then going home? A principle I live by is this: Ministry should always have a kingdom impact. So how do we lead the students we have been entrusted with to become more like Jesus?
Evaluate your discipleship strategies. Whether you use Sunday school or small groups or both… students need some type of effective discipleship process to put them on the path to spiritual maturity after the salvation experience. I believe this process (or strategy) should line up with the church’s discipleship process as a whole. This way you have adults and students on the “same playing field.” Within evaluating your discipleship strategies I believe you need to evaluate three areas:
1. Curriculum choice– our student ministry utilizes the KNOWN curriculum put out by LifeWay Christian Resources and it works really well. The purpose of this curriculum is to help students know God, own their faith, and make their faith known. It also has a six-year scope and sequence so leaders, teachers, parents, and volunteers know exactly where the students will be led. There are other great curriculums out there (and not so good ones) but my encouragement would be to use one that has a purpose and a scope and sequenced mapped out.
2. Training bible study leaders– who will teach the curriculum you choose is just as important as what curriculum you choose to use. We must have specific times in which we are training our adult volunteers. Ideally this should take place quarterly or least once ever six months. Ask questions such as, “How is your small group going?” “Is there anything you need or would make your time better?” “How can I as a student minister resource you better?” This way conversation flows and we all can get ideas off each other.
3. Meeting times– Lastly, I would encourage you to evaluate the weekly time slot you have your small group bible studies. If Sunday morning is the best time, great! If Wednesday nights after your mid-week service is the best, great! If a night other than Sunday or Wednesdays will attract more students, great! Whatever time slot you choose if fine but I do believe we need to be asking the question, “Is this the best time for our students?”
Evaluating our discipleship strategies is a must for every student ministry. We want our students to have a great 6-7 years while they are in middle school and high school but more importantly we want them to be more like Jesus!