When I started youth ministry 17 years ago I was young and inexperienced. I had had some amazing mentors who had shown me first hand how to disciple teenage girls, but I was admittedly insecure in my ability. I thought the answer for that insecurity was more knowledge- if I prepared myself thoroughly by knowing the Bible and doctrine I thought I could up my chances of helping teenagers come to know and understand the God who loves them.
Seventeen years later I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside a fair number of wonderful young women. Instead of relying deeply on all that Bible knowledge, the reality is, I find myself teaching the same 3 lessons over and over and over.
I want to share them today to make these points: Anyone, regardless of training or experience, can be a discipler. And the second is like the first: You can disciple the teenager or friend that has captured your heart.
3 Simple but Profound Concepts to Model:
1. How to pray.
If a teen has been raised in the church it’s often the case that their parents or church have “done God for them” for many years. Now they find themselves becoming an adult and they’ve never actually learned how to have a relationship with God. Alternatively, when a teen is new to faith in Christ the hurdle of communicating with a God they can’t see with their eyes is often too big. If you are willing to disciple teens (or anyone for that matter) arm yourself with a few tools to help the young person determine what to do when they sit down to pray. Use an acrostic like PRAY (Praise, Repent, Adoration, Yield) or ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). But beyond that, pray this way with them for several weeks and model what it looks, feels and sounds like.
2. How to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Several times a year I find myself sitting across from a young person explaining how they can hear from the Living God. This is not nearly as complicated as we make it. Obedience to the Holy Spirit’s call in the small, private things that he whispers in our ear brings a fresh ability to hear the Spirit when he gives guidance in the big things. Really this concept is “caught” more than “taught” so be open about your own struggle with obedience and what God is asking you to do. Show them where you are saying “yes” to the Spirit in little, but profound ways, and how you hear him leading and guiding you as a result.
3. How to hear from God through the Bible.
I have met very few teenagers, regardless of how much time they have spent in church, who know how God speaks to us and guides us through the Bible. We spend a lot of time helping teens to stop reading the Bible like one of their textbooks, but rather what it is, the very words of the Living God.
There are lots of good tools out there to help teens with this. Whatever tool you use make sure it is simple. We give our teens three, and only three questions to use when they sit down to meet with God through the Bible. The key question is the last- “How is my day going to change because of what I’ve read?” If the young person is ever going to learn this supernatural mystery of God’s Word changing our lives then disciplers must help those they are mentoring to wrestle with the “so what?” question. The best thing you can do is not to teach them about how to hear from God from the Bible, but actually sit with them and model that process of applying God’s Word to your own life.
There, you see, to boil those three lessons down, discipling teens is really about showing them how to have a relationship with God. You can do that. Whether you are a grandma, a business man, a retail assistant or a teen yourself. Model and encourage them to interact with the living God and you will gift them with the joy of life to the full.
Categories: Youth Ministry Resources
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