Our students live in an age where information comes at them like a firehose.
Every day, Google’s search engine is tapped 6 billion times. Facebook messages are posted 4.3 billion times. Four million hours of content are uploaded to YouTube. Each day.
If your teenagers can ask Siri anything…why do they need you, their fearless youth leader, to help them navigate the information landscape?
Because information isn’t wisdom.
Perhaps now more than ever, teenagers need help developing their critical thinking skills so they can wisely discern truth from lies out there in the massive marketplace of ideas (Philippians 1:9-11). They’ll drown if they don’t learn how to evaluate and synthesize information from a Christian worldview. And these critical thinking skills pretty much always involve encouraging them to ask questions—tough questions.
What’s the best way to learn these critical skills and find answers to the tough questions? In the context of a caring relationship with a wise adult they trust—an adult they know they can ask any question they have about God and faith and life and Truth.
Sounds a lot like the definition of discipleship, doesn’t it?
Yet shockingly, dictionary.com’s definition of “disciple” includes the following notations:
verb (used with object), discipled, discipling
5. Archaic. to convert into a disciple.
6. Obsolete. to teach; train.
Did you notice that the verb forms of the word “disciple” are marked as Archaic and Obsolete? Sadly, it’s a blatant commentary on the church age we live. But it doesn’t need to be! Seeing students discipled is NOT a thing of the past…in fact, it’s at the very core the Gospel Advancing Ministry Movement.
Building a Discipleship Strategy
Which is why Value #4 of a Gospel Advancing Ministry is “A disciple multiplication strategy guides it.” A solid discipleship strategy lies at the core of seeing the message of the gospel advance both in and through your teenagers. So where do you start?
An effective discipleship strategy is built on four pillars:
- A caring Christian relationship. You’ll want to recruit mature, caring Christians to help you disciple your students, so you can get every student plugged into a small group. Discipleship happens best life-on-life, so strive to keep your leader-to-student ratios low.
- A safe environment where questions are welcome. You want your students to bring their questions about faith and life to you or other leaders in your group. If the youth group/small group isn’t a safe space to raise their questions, they’ll look for answers elsewhere.
- A core curriculum that dives deep into the basic tenets of the Christian faith. If students aren’t encouraged to explore both the “what” and the “why” behind the core truths of Christianity, their faith is likely to shrivel up and blow away when they encounter alternate worldviews that challenge the truth of Christianity.
- A foundational commitment to making disciples who make disciples. The driving mission Jesus gives His followers is to take His message to others. If we leave this call out of the discipleship process, then we’re robbing our students of the calling of Christ. They’ve been saved not just from something, but to something bigger than themselves—to play an active part in Jesus’ redemptive plan for the world.
Digging Deep into Theology
The chatter out there in youth ministry circles might lead you to believe that your teenagers aren’t interested in digging deep into theological topics. But when 25,000 teenagers across North America were asked, “Which of the following topics would you most like to learn more about at church?” the survey results point to a different conclusion. From a list of thirty topics, the top ten might surprise (and encourage) you. In order of teen interest, the top ten were:
- Why does God allow evil in this world?
- If Jesus is the only way to heaven, are all other religions wrong?
- How does God judge those who have never heard the gospel?
- What is the Great Commission [at D2S we call it THE Cause], and how does it relate to me?
- How do I share [defend] my faith?
- Is there a real heaven and hell, and what are they like?
- What does it mean to have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit?
- What is the truth, and can I know it with certainty?
- Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does He do?
- Is there a judgment day, and what difference should it make in my life?
Notice that the vast majority of these top ten topics teens were most interested in learning more about play a central role in being motivated and equipped to share their faith with others. For lessons on each of these questions (and more), check out Dare 2 Share’s Youth Group 2 Go product line. Each downloadable lesson in this series addresses a core theological question and comes infused with a Gospel Advancing practical application that helps student unpack what difference the answer to this questions should make in their day-to-day life as they walk with Jesus.
Creating a discipling youth ministry culture where tough questions are welcomed and explored will help your Gospel Advancing Ministry thrive. Help your students navigate the firehose of information bombarding them each day by teaching them the skills that take them beyond information to godly wisdom.
How to Help Students Learn to be Wise