definitionsOkay, so, we are making sure we are clearly defining terms we use in our ministries.  Using terms like “spiritual growth” without clearly defining them, in my opinion, can actually be damaging.  At best it’s ambiguous and confusing for those we lead.  If you missed my definition of “spiritual growth” click here.

In this post I will define “disciple.”  This is important to define clearly because:

1.  It is our identity as followers of Jesus – we are his disciples
2.  If we are to “disciple” someone else we must understand clearly what that means

Here is the definition I use in our church for “disciple:

someone who learns about and from Jesus so they can obey his teachings and teach others to do the same

We often talk about a “disciple” is a learner, but that’s just not good enough.  The goal is NOT to learn information!!!!!  The goal is to obey all Jesus has taught us (Matthew 28:18-20).  So, our definition must include more than just learning.  Secondly, the disciples that walked alongside Jesus were commanded to teach others, so our definition must include this aspect as well.  The goal is NOT to keep what we learn and do to ourselves, but instead to spread it as much as we possibly can.

Lastly, if we are to disciple people, this definition narrows our focus.  Our focus is on the teachings of Jesus, which the rest of the scriptures supports, and our goal is for those we teach to obey what they learn and then cause others to do the same.  If obedience and teaching others to do the same does not follow our “discipleship,” we are not truly discipling anyone.

May you continue to be clear and concise with what you say as a leader.

One of our amazing summer interns took some super cool photos during the finale to last week’s 11 vs. the World series (read about the whole weekend here). This was part of the candle illustration to show how Jesus is the Light of the World and how the Good News spread quickly from person to person.


Here’s a clip from Taffy’s talk this past weekend – this part focuses on the cost of discipleship and being sold out to Christ.


Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). As leaders who regularly speak into the lives of young people in their most formidable years, our attention to this command must be even greater! Here’s a few things I’ve challenged our team to keep in mind when discipling:

1. Our authority to disciple comes from Christ
Your authority to disciple doesn’t just come from the senior pastor. Christ, who has received all authority from the Father, gives the authority we exercise in discipleship to us. When we exercise this authority, we are tapping into the very same authority that God the Father has given to Jesus. Even Jesus himself didn’t grab authority from the Father. The Father delighted to give it to him. We must both accept and exercise authority with the same servant heart.

2. Discipleship doesn’t just happen in the church
To make disciples, we must go and we must make. To go requires movement and to make requires creativity. Jesus went from heaven to to fully immerse himself in the sin filled, God rejecting world we brought on ourselves. He made and grew his disciples by preaching from boats, raising people from the dead and putting a runaway ear back on the head of a soldier. Jesus was creative in discipleship and we should be too!

3. Baptism should be our first aim of discipleship
The temptation might be for us to see ‘salvations’ as our first aim in youth ministry, but salvation by itself is not what Christ has commanded us to work towards. Our first aim in discipleship should be to see young people baptised. Here comes a John Piper quote but he’s better at this than you and me. Piper says, ‘The meaning of baptism develops out of this meaning of discipleship. If becoming a disciple of Jesus means dying to your old life and walking in newness of life with Christ as Jesus taught, then it’s almost inevitable that the symbolic act of that conversion should come to signify a death and resurrection.” Baptism is about more than the occasion itself, it’s also about the death of our old selves and our resurrection with Christ. Sounds like a good first aim to me!

4. Discipling youth is about making them more like Christ
It’s been said that discipleship is about being first, and then doing. If we are not observing all Christ has commanded us, how can we expect those we are discipling to do anything different? This shouldn’t just lead our young people towards our own special interest areas. We want them to become more like Christ! Let’s resist the temptation to turn them into mini-me’s.

5. You’re not alone
Jesus didn’t offer his final instructions and then just left us to it. We have a promise from Christ that he is with us always! That means when you’re facing a discipleship challenge that seems insurmountable, Christ is with you by his Holy Spirit. When a parent seems completely uninterested in the life of their young person, Christ is with you. When you bring the new church van back with a dent shaped like an frightened cow, Christ is with you. Always.

Rich Crosby is the Youth Pastor of Church of Christ the King in Brighton, England. He writes at and you also connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Youth Ministry is such a dynamic thing, change is common and needed, the group dynamics can shift week to week based on who is there and who is not. The temptation can be that sometimes we can be as dynamic with our approach week to week, changing style, flow and structure to a youth night. What I have noticing more and more is that a steadfast commitment to keeping a reliable and consistent structure can and will have more value and dare I say more fruit than a go with the flow style and here are two reasons why.

It Makes Outreach Easier: In the past year we have adopted a much more standardized format to our youth services, they are not the same week in and week out, but will always incorporate: a message of some kind, Worship and small group time for all students. What I have noticed as a result of this change is that students don’t ask, “what is happening at youth this week, I want to bring my friend out”. This was a question that as a small group leader several years ago I would get often. Students now know what to expect , and as a result are inviting their non-churched friends in droves. Consistency is many ways is safety, and creating a safe place for students to grow in their faith is of the upmost importance.

It is helpful to your leaders: I remember vividly, being a small group leader, and having one of those “God is moving huge nights” with my small group guys and just knowing that the next week we would take it further, challenging them more, sharing more. But then we got to youth the next week and its now crazy games night instead. The lack of consistency meant a loss of momentum and in some respects missed opportunities to build on what was already happening. Having consistency makes being one of your small group leaders so much better because you know that you are going to have time next week to answer those tough questions that you had to park, or for students to share how they implemented what was God put on their heart the week before. I am not saying not to have fun games night, but have the scheduled in a way that they are not counterproductive the the purpose of your ministry.

This might not be for everyone, its challenging to do, to set a vision, purpose and objective and stick with it. But from what I have seen, the impact it is having on students spiritual growth is worth all the hard work and discipline we have put in. Your students and leader will appreciate it, I know ours have.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. You can, too! See how right here.