Archives For How to build a Disciple-Making Ministry

“This is the closest description of what we’ve seen the team develop in. It’s drawing upon the strengths and talents God has given each of us – and using that in a team for His Glory. To make Him famous!”

Emily Spicer, Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

It has been one week since our Moveolution Europe team landed back in the UK from their 10-day mission trip in Moldova. How did God stir up faith in the community and our team?

From Moldovan-style horse and carriage commutes to sharing the love of God with over 65 children, our team were taken on a whirlwind of a journey with God this February.

We partner with OM Moldova, a mission organisation who started sharing the love of God in Moldova by smuggling Bibles into the country during the Soviet reign, to reach children and families in Palanca.

“Having the pastor share his vision on the first night then enabled our team to know how to partner, get on board and be one cohesive team working together. “

Emily, in our team, helped keep us updated while in Palanca, Moldova. You can read her awesome diary updates for further reading, but here are some of our highlights from this years mission trip.

“We thank God because it has been the most incredible experience, living in the wonderful village of Palanca.”

Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

Time with God

The team started each day in quiet time with God, centred around a morning talk with one of our partners. This quiet time was an incredible way to focus on how God was speaking to the team and the Moldovan people and to put Him at the centre of our lives.

“At first it may have seemed a lot, but has been a divine treasure for truth and talking point amongst the team,” Emily shared. “It starts the day with God first and our priority, which is a model for life back home.”

The team felt encouraged to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances for what He has already done and promised – before the situation! The team’s trust in God grew and each step unfolded with God’s provision.

Time with God helped the team grow spiritually and ignited communications with God. Reflecting on God moving in the situations and praising Him for how he was working in Palanca brought a model for back home!

Family Visits

Visiting families in their homes was an amazing way to share the love God has for the people in Moldova.

Each house was different, however the team all agreed that the Moldovan people are all extremely hospitable. The team were deeply touched by their need and love for God!

Visiting the families was an incredible opportunity to share our story, pray for their individual needs and listen to the circumstances of the families.

“When visiting people in houses it was challenging to be in small groups – but it meant we were encouraged to speak up and share our story”.

Moved by the powerful stories of the families, our team were so encouraged to share the stories of how God had moved in their lives. Many families faced difficult circumstances, who needed the hope of Jesus.

“A lot of houses we went to wanted us to pray for health because the access to healthcare isn’t great,” shared Ali. “A lot of Moldovan’s struggle to make it to 60,70 years of age; they work hard young and get worn down.”

The team gave food parcels to the families to help nourish their bodies and told stories of hope to bring the love of God in those situations.

“Refreshing and real, the experience of house visits has been a mixture of challenge and inspiration”

In the home of one of the families the team visited, a mother with a four-month-old baby felt God in a personal way. Through the love she had for her son, she was able to understand how God unconditionally loved her and died for her. She “would die for him”, her son, just as Jesus died for her. God showed up.

Another family felt particularly touched by one of the team sharing how God had shaped them. They became more interested in how the Bible was relevant in their lives today. They began to understand how God could speak into their needs and circumstances through the bible.

Children’s and Youth Programmes

During the mission trip, our team ran and hosted children’s programmes at one of the local churches in Palanca.

Venturing out into the village, our team also went into the community to invite youth to an evening service which they also hosted.

Eager and excited, the team welcomed over 40 children on the first day and over 65 children the other days to watch plays of bible stories, do arts, crafts and games, as well as pray for the children.

The children became more open and eager to participate over the course of the programme whether it was through listening or playing games.

Things got serious during the making of paper aeroplanes and they enjoyed playing with them afterward. The games brought them such joy!

At the end of the programme the team prayed individually with each child who attended the programme, bringing an opportunity to speak God into their lives and fill their hearts with the deep love of Jesus.

The team felt grateful then to have specific time with the youth. There is something special about “Teenagers reaching Teenagers!”.

So many of the teenagers in Palanca came to the programme and engaged with what the team shared. The evening was extremely powerful.

“We reflected a generation that was listening to God and that was evident in testimonies.”

“It was great to hear the pastor of the church say he was incredibly grateful for what we did. The impact it had on the children and youth was so great, it filled his heart with joy.”

Life Back Home

Re-familiarising themselves with life back home after being taken out of their comfort zones and into God’s hands, the team are putting what they have learnt into action!

One week since returning, how is God continuing to impact our team?

Physical and Spiritual Thankfulness

Physical

Culture shock sunk in this week, as the team were faced with the luxuries which we take for granted.

During their time in Moldova, the team were faced with seeing a lack of healthcare, sanitation and safe water.

The team have come home truly appreciating and thanking God for those things which some of the world do not have access to, sometimes out of no fault of their own.

Spiritual

During the mission trip, one of our leaders, Tom, guided the team through a quiet time. In this time he highlighted that in order to live like Jesus we must thank God ahead of the situations we face.

“This isn’t just a nice saying,” says Emily. “We saw this embedded into Jesus’ ministry, such as before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-43, Luke 9:16)”

The team are integrating both forms of thankfulness into their personal lives, but also in their youth ministries back home.

In Bicester, the team are putting God first by challenging themselves to praise God before their youth groups or places they serve in. Thanking God ahead of what happens.

Appreciating God’s Provision

Fabian, a member of our team, says he has been changed since the mission trip in Moldova. “I am thankful to God that He will always provide and meet every need we have, both physical and spiritual,” he says – even if this isnt how we always expect.

Facing desperate circumstances, the team sometimes felt helpless. One of the things that the team has appreciated since being home is trusting God to meet these needs and not relying on our personal strength.

The most powerful reaction is prayer and to trust God with providing for us.

Vicky was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Moldovan people. “I am looking for ways to carry the hospitality of the Moldovan people into my core values in my personal life and in ministry.” Vicky shared.

To learn more about what the team got up to, read our Mission Diary, written by the wonderful Emily on our Gap Year Programme.

Thinking of taking your youth on a mission trip? Click here for our Overseas and UK Mission Trips.

Sometimes it can feel like the youth and the church are disconnected from each other. Here are 5 simple ways to help your youth and the church develop a relationship and feel more connected.

Our students, friends and team share some tips and tricks to help the church and youth feel more connected to each other (they may also help to get in more volunteers!)

Prayer can not only help grow our faith as it encourages us to be in conversation with God and seek His help, but it also helps us to think about what we pray.

By encouraging the church or leadership team to pray for specific things within your young people’s lives and praying with the youth for other aspects of the church, helps us to think of eachother and feel more connected.

Because prayer invites testimony, praying for each other helps the church feel connected and invites spiritual and numerical growth to happen.

It may require us to keep updated in what is going on across all congregations, teams and individual people within the church but it will also help the youth and members of the church to have something to talk about.

We believe discipleship and growing youth ministry is all about being relational, that it is more than just a programme.

Youth ministry thrives for relationships helping them with their spiritual adventure. Help the church to see that youth ministry isn’t just a programme but a place to see the youth’s relationship with Jesus grow by being relational and working as a community!

We are near enough born for relationships and connecting with others. Christian author, Stasi Eldredge, says;

Part of discipleship is being overseen by a spiritual parent. One of the best ways to see youth and church members disciple others is by seeing how healthy discipleship works from your example.

Encourage your team to spark conversation with the youth and be real, help show the church the youth are wanting a relationship with God and connection with the community and no one is too old for getting down with the youth!

Inviting people in to talk to the youth about their testimony or have a go at serving on the youth team is a great way to help the youth get to know people in the church and know who they are.

Often, I felt the youth got a bit bored with my voice and having someone fresh to talk to help inspire them. They may feel like someone else in the church inspires them with their faith more or their story may resonate.

When someone comes to faith often they feel motivated to serve and help others, sometimes serving helps us to come to faith because we see generosity, love and relationship. The Bible inspires us to serve, and joy can come to us through helping.

Asking the youth to help serve on a team will not only make the teams super grateful but will help the youth to build relationships with people in the church and with God. Working together can be fun, starts a conversation and helps us to feel part of something.

It also helps the youth to see the generosity of the volunteers helping and maybe help them to respect you. Serving on a team can be so life-giving and gives all the feel-good vibes!

Many studies have found having a mentor helps people massively in all aspects of life, especially teenagers. According to research from 2008, having a healthy mentor-style relationship during teenage years helps to reduce the likelihood of substance abuse, promotes better mental health, increases confidence, betters academic performance and improves family relationships. This relationship helps youth to feel listened to, supported and increases personal relationships.

So many of our students are inspired by people in the church who mentored them or invested time into their spiritual journey. This helps to ignite a passion to do the same.

Alex, who is currently studying on the Degree says; “Because people discipled me and invested into my life, I want to do the same for others. I want to be the person who invests into others and helps the to grow in their relationship with God.”

If you feel they are able, it may be good for the youth to mentor someone else. Maybe there is a younger person in the youth who would benefit with a mentor in your youth group.

Action!

Finding a Mentor – Ask the church if there is anybody who would like to be a mentor for one of the young people and to sign up in whichever way is easiest for your context. Then you may be able to see people who would suit mentoring a specific young person in the group.

Sam, Friend of Reign

We hope this gave you some inspiration! For more resources, stories and information check out our blog and website

*With all these suggestions make sure you keep on track with safeguarding and DBS. Speak to a church leader if you need any help with this. Have fun!

 

In this, our third and final podcast, we talk with Reign Ministries Director, Kyle McKinnon and youth practitioners Brad Laing, Meghan Murphy and Sam Williams, as well as researcher Phoebe Thompson about the implications of the Losing Heart report for youth ministry training organisations.

If you have a heart to change the trend in your local context and could use support and training, contact us to see how we could help prepare you to develop an effective, disciple-making ministry in your church or youth project.

 

Today’s podcast is fifteen minutes long.

 

The team at Youthscape Centre for Research surveyed over 2000 churches regarding their youth and children’s work.  It’s key three findings are that:

  1. Churches, especially smaller ones, do more children’s work than youth work.
  2. Churches are failing to talk about the topics young people want to discuss.
  3. Churches know that they are struggling with their children’s and youth work but don’t know how to fix it.

The Losing Heart report suggested a crisis of confidence that churches have in their ability to reach young people.

Yesterday we began our podcast series with researcher, Phoebe Thompson sharing a summary of the Losing Heart report.  If you missed yesterday’s introduction podcast, you can listen to here.

In todays podcast we discus the report with a team of youth ministers.  We discuss how the church can better prepare itself to receive youth, and the role of the volunteer in the future of youth ministry.  Today’s podcast is 15 minutes long.

 

 

In December 2016 a sobering report was released by Youthscape Centre for Research.  It highlighted the crisis of confidence that churches are having about their ability to engage young people.

Many simply can’t seem to provide any youth work or don’t have any young people left to work with, and it’s hard to know what comes first: young people leaving the church, or a lack of youth provision. For many of these churches, the workers are few and they are losing heart and confidence.

Losing Heart Report, Page 8

Since our heartbeat at Reign Ministries is to train youth ministers and volunteers and spark movements of discipleship among young people we thought it imperative to sit down with researcher Phoebe Thompson and discuss her findings.  We’ve broken our podcast into three parts which we will run over the next three days.

If you would like to read the research for yourself you can download it at:  https://www.youthscape.co.uk/research/publications/losing-heart

Today’s podcast is just over eight minutes long.

Year three student Annabel Stott brought four young people from St. Francis Church in Doncaster to Moldova with us last week.  Here are her reflections on how the trip will transform those who participated:

 

“…The five of us from Doncaster were part of a much larger group totalling 19 from England; Scotland, Portugal and America…

As this was the first time that we have taken a group from this church away on a mission trip, it felt important to take a group of young leaders who could be influential in our own mission and ministry back home in Doncaster; with the hope that the trip would inspire them to come back and be role models for the younger youth in our church and community. Who knows, hopefully next year we will take even more out to Moldova! For all of them this was their first mission trip, for a few it was the first time away from home and for a couple the first time out of the country, so don’t feel like you have to be well travelled to join one of these trips! The experience has completely changed their lives and they have all come home more inspired and much bolder.

At the start of the trip we flew out to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova to meet with the OM (Operation Mobilisation) team and to prepare for the culture that we were to submerse ourselves in for the next week. The following day we headed out to Bravicea, a village 2 hours away from the capital to join a church which was to be our base for the week of ministry; there were mixed emotions and nerves at this point from the team but we already felt like we had known each other for more than the three days we had been together, with so much morale and positivity going around!

From this base we went out to deliver food parcels and do home visits to vulnerable members of the community in the villages of Bravicea, Schinoasa and Hoginesti. The home visits were a very challenging part of the trip for many of the group as they opened our eyes to the extremely poor conditions that most of the people in these villages were living in.

In the winter in Moldova, people often use only one or two rooms in their houses in order to stay warm and keep the house heated during the freezing months. This presented a challenge when we tried to fit a good 15 people into one bedroom (and some funny pictures too!), but these spaces were also where we had the opportunity to spread hope, hear people’s stories, speak words of truth over people from the Bible, pray for healing and salvations. During the week the team saw 10 healings and 12 salvations…how amazing is that! This was such an encouragement to us as looked at our own communities and ministries back in the UK.

As well as home visits we also participated in church services, youth services and kids clubs where we shared testimonies and a word, did games and activities and prayed for the churches and their members. This was such a fun way to get involved with the communities as we could see how God was working and pulling people together for his common good.

We were blessed with amazing accommodation and food for the whole trip; the OM centre and the church in Bravicea were incredible examples of how to be hospitable. One of the main things we saw from this trip was how generous the people of Moldova are as they continuously wanted to serve us and extend generosity and hospitality to us. For example, a lady in her 80’s who was so filled with joy ensured that all 11 of us were seated in her bedroom before she sat on a tiny stool with us! As well as this, an inspiring group of ladies from the village cooked for us all three times a day everyday to ensure we were prepared to go out and do ministry; they not only served us but loved on us too. One girl on the trip turned 15 mid-week and as the UK leaders frantically rushed out to a local shop to find a cake, they returned to plates of ice cream, baskets of chocolates and biscuits, fizzy pop and TWO gigantic homemade cakes! A definitive picture of love and generosity from such humble women.

One of the biggest encouragements from this trip was seeing young people from three groups across the UK (plus a couple ‘nomads’ and an American!) come together under one name; Reign Ministries UK, without really knowing each other but with one heart and purpose; to love the people of Moldova, to love God and connect the two together. As a leader on this trip, I found it inspiring watching these young people join with one vision and an endless stream of passion to join in God’s mission for a week in a country that most of them had never been to. They served, the stepped out, they showed great faith and most of all they never stopped loving. They never stopped loving Moldova, they never stopped loving each other and they never stopped loving God. Their love just grew

I have tried to summarise this trip in several ways, yet the only way I seem to find most fitting is with this statement that we focused on in our devotions during the week; it became the heart beat for our ministry and will stick with us as we continue to serve God back home.

 

‘I am deeply loved by God, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, powerfully equipped, totally accepted and complete in Christ.’

 

As this sunk into our hearts it spread out into our ministry and my prayer is that it continues to do that here in the UK.

If you, or a young person you know feels they want to step out in seeing God work across Europe, to be inspired and to become part of a team family, then definitely consider a trip to Moldova with Reign Ministries UK! Our Doncaster team hope to return next year, if not sooner! Get in touch with Reign Ministries UK or myself if you want to know more.”

 

A few weeks ago I went on a mission trip to Moldova with Paul, one of the teenagers from church, and a bunch of other great people.  At first I was a bit sad that only one of my teenagers could go but we had a good week and it was great to have this time away with him and the rest of the team.

Paul & Ute

I have been discipling Paul since last summer and it has been inspiring to see God work in and through his life.

So if I can disciple him at home in England, why even bother to take him on a mission trip? And what difference does it make to be on that trip together rather than just sending him off with a group?

Well, I believe that discipleship is about sharing life. Jesus didn’t just catch up with His disciples once every so often, but He did life with them. Of course I can’t share a house with all the young people I work with, but being on a mission trip together comes fairly close to that.

It is important for the people we disciple, to see how we handle different situations, especially the hard ones. They need to see that being a Christian is not just something we do every now and then, but that God is in every aspect of our lives.

At the same time it is a great opportunity to see how they handle challenging situations. It was really helpful for me to observe not only that Paul was willing to prepare a sermon when given the opportunity, but also how he prepared himself for it. It could be a way of getting him involved in our youth ministry, where he can grow in faith and develop his skills and talents. Seeing how Paul handled responsibility on our mission trip to Moldova showed me that he is a natural leader.

At the same time it is a great opportunity to see how they handle challenging situations. It was really helpful for me to observe not only that Paul was willing to prepare a sermon when given the opportunity, but also how he prepared himself for it. It could be a way of getting him involved in our youth ministry, where he can grow in faith and develop his skills and talents. Seeing how Paul handled responsibility on our mission trip to Moldova showed me that he is a natural leader.

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Going on a mission trip to a different country always puts you in a place where you don’t have your usual sense of safety and security.

You will inevitably face some stretching situations in which you will probably wish you had someone to talk to. How much more important is it then for young people to have their youth leaders there to encourage and support them? If Paul needed advice or help, he could turn to me as his ‘big sister’ and know that there is someone who understands.

Furthermore, I believe that God brings out gifts and skills in the people we disciple on mission trips. Being in new and challenging situations requires us to rely on God and Him alone. In those times we are usually more open to hear and learn from Him. It is in those situations that we discover more what gifts and skills were given to us. It never ceases to amaze me to see how God, in all His creativity and greatness, works in people’s lives, especially if you’ve journeyed alongside them for some time.

Lastly, going on a mission trip together means that you will share the same memories and stories; being able to look back, laugh, cry or just remember. Sharing a memory with someone is powerful and strengthens the friendship. In a moment of despair or doubt you can remind each other of the times, when you both experienced God show up.

Faith has a lot to do with remembering and holding on to those stories. It’s going back and looking at what God has done in the past to be able to trust that God will work in the future as well.

I believe going on a mission trip with the young people I disciple is a very special opportunity to deepen their trust towards me. Not only do I learn a lot about them, but also they can observe how I live life as a Christian – something that should be evident not just once a week for a couple of hours, but throughout the day. Every day.

The sun was out, but it was cold. I wondered as I approached the Quarry if we would make it through an hour.   What were we thinking?  Did we really think the young people would rise to the challenge of spending an hour alone with God? Why hadn’t we thought through how cold it was outside?

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This past month we developed a teaching series in our youth group called “How to Connect with God”. We talked about the basics like how to pray- and then we practiced doing it. We talked about connecting with God through the Bible- and many in our group, both Christian and non-Christian had never interacted with God through his Word. So we practiced.   We talked about connecting with God through worship. Everything we talked about we practiced.

 

So the week we talked about connecting with God through nature it was no less important to practice. It just happened to be February.

 

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So we set up an Hour-With-God-Challenge. The rules were simple. We would all go to an outdoor space, and spend an hour connecting with God. They brought their Bibles and journals and we gave them a list of things they could do to connect with God through nature (download our list here). After that we would eat pizza and share together how we found the experience and what we felt God drawing out of us.

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There is something that happens when you take young people out of their normal setting and set them the task of spending time in the presence of Jesus. They surprise you. They surprise themselves. They start out thinking “there is absolutely no way I could spend an hour with God”. But each of our young people- both Christians and non-Christians enjoyed the hour.   Some of them relished the alone time and others found it difficult to spend an hour alone with themselves, let alone God. All of these things were talking points during our debrief time.

 

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In the end they were all surprised about how fast the hour went. They were surprised to meet with God outside in the cold. Before we even left the Quarry they were talking about doing it again soon. Yes, I thought, just maybe not in February.

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Driving home from the airport last weekend, one young person was sharing highlights from the mission trip to Moldova and a statement she made really stuck out to me. She said excitedly, “By the end of the week we all felt like family!”

While she may not realise the significance of why that was true, I was glowing because I knew she had encountered God in a new way.

At the start of the week, the team was a mixture of nervous excitement! Many were concerned about the conditions we would face in the Moldovan villages. They worried about being far from home or not knowing how to react to cultural differences. In the midst of all the ways they were pushed outside their comfort zone, God met them in new ways.

 

On mission trips, young people experience a new passion for God.

We spent an hour with God every morning, reading the Bible, praying, journaling. In their everyday lives, young people are so easily distracted by their phones, or friends, or busy schedules. But not on a mission trip. Phones were not allowed, time had to be spent alone, just them and God. And our schedule was set so that this time was completely free.

One of the young people on the trip wrote about the experience:

IMG_0557“I have enjoyed growing my relationship with God. He has shown me to trust and believe in him in hard times.”

 

Even in the most unlikely places, our team saw new meaning of having passion for God. Another student on the team wrote about a home visit to a bed-ridden elderly woman:

“The plan was to encourage this lady and pray with this lady but actually she was a bigger blessing and encouragement for us. She has a big passion for God and a big heart. I was so encouraged after this time.”

As young people are given opportunities to see and experience God more, their passion for Him grows. They also understand more clearly who they are in Him and what their role is in His family.

 

On mission trips, young people experience a new love for one another.

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This happened within the team and outside of it. Our team of young people and students for the Moldova mission trip came from 5 different churches, 6 different year groups, and 4 different countries. Needless to say, the first few days we often felt disjointed, competitive, and individualistic. But somehow God took the unique personalities of the team and created a family. God gave us a love for each other and a desire to serve one another on the team. That showed by one person offering another their water, by someone picking up a broom to sweep our meeting room, by praying for a teammate who was feeling ill.

The group’s love for one another spilled over into IMG_6088their ministry times every afternoon when they served the local village church by running childrens programmes or visiting church members in their homes or helping with physical labour. Another team member reported:

“Even though most of the time they couldn’t understand us, they knew we cared and loved them.”

The love the team shared grew exponentially over the course of the week and it was evident God was at work in showing His love to us and to those we served.

 

On mission trips, young people experience a new compassion for the lost.

They are able to share their faith story with others. They are able to pray for those who are hurting, lay hands on those who are sick, and encourage those who are lonely. So many families in Moldova are split up because the men and children leave to find work in other countries. God broke the hearts of many young people on our team by exposing them to the lives of those who lack the comforts we enjoy. He gave them a new heart for ministering to the hurting, the broken, and the lost.

 

IMG_6184One person on the team wrote about her experience:

“When you go into villages in Moldova, it’s easy to feel guilty or bad because you have so much and they have hardly nothing. But what God was teaching me this week was that it is okay having so much. And instead of feeling guilty I should go out to the people and share my love and my wealth with them… It just helped me serve the kids, to share my love with them and bring light into their lives.”

As the team grew to become a family, they drew others into their family. The children especially, could see and experience God’s love through His love in us.

IMG_0558It’s in these key areas of spiritual growth that young people’s faith journey makes huge strides through mission trips.

Sure, taking teenagers on mission presents all kinds of challenges. But the hours of planning, moments of frustration or situations of embarrassment are fleeting compared to the eternal investment and growth they experience.

We can continue to pray that God will grow spiritually healthy young people by giving them opportunities to join Him on mission, be it in foreign countries or in their own town. God is drawing young people to Himself, to be part of His big story, part of His family on mission, and trips are a powerful way for them to experience God in new ways.

Last week schools work specialist John Prockter gave us some good advice when considering starting schools work in our local area.  Did you miss that video? Catch up here.

This week John shares about ibreakout- a resource he and his team have developed for schools work in their local area.  We think it’s great!  John’s put together a FREE demo pack that you can download (ibreakout FREE Demo Pack).   It comes with two sample lessons that you could use in your youth project or schools work and lays out an overview of the whole six-session resource.

Tune in to the video below to hear how ibreakout works in schools.

Got more questions about ibreakout?  Learn more at the The Bridgnorth Youth & Schools Work website.