James’ Story of Discipleship

Why Discipleship?

The essentiality of discipleship is one that can be first found within Scripture with passages like the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20) and 2 Timothy 2:2, but also within our culture.

Coming Alongside

The young people of Gen Z are in the middle of a loneliness and mental health epidemic. Many of us might not have the training to professionally handle the deepest parts of these crises. However, we do have the ability and calling to come alongside. We are able to support, and be a person of consistency and genuine care for those struggling.

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Life In All Its Fullness

Discipleship draws us into the lives of others, and them into ours, and provides a space for authentic relationship. It encourages our young people into a life that serves Christ first; a life in all its fullness (John 10:10). Journeying with someone as their eyes open to what a life with Christ means is a priviledge and a joy.

The Power of Discipleship

Personally, having a Youth Minister intentionally discipling me weekly during my teens made a monumental difference to my faith. Meeting up in a coffee shop, discussing Scripture, planning a small group that we led together, all added a dynamism to my faith.

Discipleship In Action

I can recall a specific instance when an old mate from school came into the coffee shop where I was meeting the Youth Minister. The guy came over and said hello and after a certain amount of small talk, he moved on. After this interaction the Youth Minister asked me whether I’d ever shared my faith with this person. Did they even know I went to church? My answer to both of these was no. As a shy, socially awkward teenager in a school with minimal other Christians I kept my head down and tried to avoid attention. Having discussed this with the Youth Minister they encouraged me to go over and invite this guy to an upcoming event. Terrified, I accepted and did so.

This person didn’t come to the event I invited them to, nor did I ever see them again. But in me it started a journey of bringing my faith from the private and into the public. It gave my faith an active component that was outside of a certain building and a certain time. It also started a process of transforming me from a shy and socially awkward teenager into a comfortable and slightly less socially awkward person. This was and is the power of discipleship. It brings life both to our faith but also us as individuals.

Discipling Others

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Years on from this experience I found myself in a position where I was now discipling young people myself. One of whom was a totally different personality to me. He exuded confidence and social competence. He also lived a life that was continually torn by the pulls of his mates, what culture expected of him, and what he would read in the Bible. We would meet up and chat about the latest challenges he was facing, or the latest passage or sermon he did’nt understand, or about his desire to pursue a professional career within Social Media.

A few months later, after moving away from the area, I met up with the guy for a catch up. He shared that he had started actively pursing the Social Media dream but would make sure that there was always a Christian message to it. He wants to make content that glorifies God and reflects that to others.

It did not require me to have any expert level skills. I needed to be available, have a willingness to listen, and the desire to ask questions and love him. When my time with that church came to an end, during my final service, his mum, tears in her eyes, thanked me for the time and investment I had made into her son’s life.

Through my discipleship journey with him, I rarely gave my opinions. But instead would investigate with him what he thought God wanted for him. Discipleship is not about experts raising younger versions of themselves. Instead it is about releasing people into inhabiting who God has created them to uniquely be. Gifting them with the freedom that comes with a life with Christ and championing them every step of the way.

In a time of a loneliness and mental health epidemic, discipleship provides our young people with a consistent, relational, champion who journeys alongside them. Someone who walks through the valleys and up the mountaintops, and points them towards their life in all of its fullness, a dynamic life with Christ. It does not solve the epidemic but can certainly go a long way towards helping with it and is something any of us can do. 

Your Discipleship Practice

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Are you passionate about walking alongside young people, but don’t know where to start? Maybe you have the willingness but would appreciate some tools to help you along your discipleship journey? Then our Expand Training Experiences could be for you! Expand: Online provides you with 3 online sessions to explore how you could grow your discipleship practice. Click the links below for more information!      


James Yielder

James is on the Degree team and is our Formation Tutor for Reign Ministries. James graduated from Moorlands Theological College and worked as an Assistant Youth Minister at Knowle Parish Church near Solihull before joining Reign staff. James brings a passion to encourage students and attention to detail into his role as Formation Director. When not working with Reign, James leads the youth ministry with his wife in Aylesbury.

Categories: Expand Discipleship Training, Youth Ministry Resources

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