If you hadn’t had guessed already, at Reign Ministries we are all about discipleship. We believe that to fully embrace what it means to be a follower of Jesus we need to be discipling, no matter what this looks like. However, we believe that Jesus shows us a way to do this that is effective and life changing. We asked our Training Co-ordinator, Matt, to share with us his experience of discipleship within Reign Ministries.
Matt & Discipleship
During my younger years I wrestled with the idea that much of my testimony is “boring”. I fully understand that God’s salvation is beautiful, no matter how you come to it. I know the party in Heaven is no different depending on how people come to faith! But my story is like so many others my age in the UK who would call themselves “Christian”.
Here’s My Story:
I was part of a Christian family. I grew up going to Church. And for my first 12 years I didn’t question that, instead fully embracing it. The fact that I was a Christian simply ‘was’, and that was all there was to it.
Then, at 12, my friend invited me to a worship evening. I went along, and I suddenly realised that God could be engaging.
A couple of years after that, I got invited to a Christian summer camp. This youth festival housed 10,000 young people. All coming together in a field for 5 days of teaching, worship, fun, and to meet lots of other Christians.
It was during my first trip to this festival where it finally clicked. I responded by telling God that I was all in. Coming home afterwards, I started helping in my church more with the Sunday School. I started to preach and lead all age services. I even got baptised.
Recognising a Pattern
After a couple of years, though, I started to notice that my faith was beginning to follow an annual pattern. I would come home from this youth event with a deep passion for God and all that He had done in my life that week. I was making promises to Him that, in that moment, I was fully committed to, and believed. Going forward I promised that I would spend time with Him daily, praying and reading my Bible. I promised that I would make good decisions that honoured Him, and that I would share this fervent faith with my friends.
However, by Christmas, these behaviours were severely diminished. And by Easter I would spend time with Him when I wanted something. I made bad decisions and retroactively tried to justify them as good decisions. My life ended up looking a lot more like the non-Christian friends that I was proud of having so I could be a witness to, rather than their lives starting to look like mine. Through all of this, I would tell myself “It’s only a few months until the summer – I’ll get my spiritual top-up then, and I’ll be back on track”.
When talk to other UK-based Christians my age, this story seems common.
A Different Path
Luckily for me though, at 18 my story took a different path: I decided to do a Gap Year with Reign Ministries. During this year, I experienced something that I had never experienced before. Discipleship.
For the first time in my life, I had someone who was investing in me personally. Every week I would get together with one of the leaders. We would talk about what we were reading in the Bible, and we would pray together. He invited to me have meals with his family, he listened to me. He corrected me when I was wrong, and gave me opportunities to lead, grow, and to deepen my relationship with and understanding of God.
Don’t get me wrong; I am so grateful to what happened in my life through the ministry of the summer festival. I know that if I hadn’t had this catalyst in my faith, I wouldn’t be who I am today, doing what I love. But it is important that we recognise that while these summer events can act as catalysts, they need to be followed up with a grounding and rooting in the daily reality of faith. I believe that Discipleship is the best tool to see this happen.
So, while there is a part of me that revels in the fact that part of my story is “different”, the reality of this breaks my heart. Over the years, I have seen peers who were my brothers and sisters quietly fall away from their walk with Jesus. How different this might be if their experiences of faith were followed up with and cultivated in the same way that mine were and continue to be.
13 Years Later?
Fast forward 13 years later, and I am still with Reign Ministries, having completed a Gap Year and the degree. And I am now heading up the Expand Discipleship Training. I want to continue to be a part of this movement that creates a culture of discipleship across the UK, because I believe that discipleship makes all the difference. I believe this because I have seen its impact in my own life.
Expanding Your Discipleship Practice
Have you experienced the ‘spiritual high’ of a summer camp, only to feel like your faith is lacking a few months down the line? Have you seen young people you work with experience the same? If you want some more information about how Reign Ministries can help you develop a discipleship strategy within your youth ministry then click the link below!
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