I was supposed to lead a workshop at a conference this Saturday, but then we got iced in. The title of the workshop was “Student Ministries Without Paid Staff”. YES, it is possible and even churches with paid staff need to engage this model of influence.
Why? Because this is what takes student ministries from programs to discipleship!
The book pictured above says all the things I keep trying to teach churches about mentor based student ministries. It is an easy read and I highly recommend it. (If you are connected to the Missouri United Methodist Conference, get in touch with the Next Gen office for a free copy.)
In Matthew 22:36-37, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
If you believe in Jesus, if you love Jesus, then you must also love others. As the Holy Spirit perfects you in love, this gets easier, but like learning anything, you also have to practice. It doesn’t mean anything to say you love others and not act on that. So, every disciple in our churches ought to be investing in someone else.
Investing in another person simply means showing up for them consistently and long term.
But you have to believe that person matters and their soul matters. When you love God with all you are and all you have, you get this. Then God shows you who He has designed you to share His love with.
We make it so difficult with all our program expectations, desire for numbers, behavior expectations, and fears of failure or ridicule. But really it is so simple: learn their name, their pet’s name, and show up for them weekly with God’s unconditional love. (p.114) If you’re reading your Bible daily, you’ll know what to do or say when the time comes.
I don’t mean to say that you have to throw out all programs from your student ministries. I mean that you have to start with building relationships with students (and their parents) in your mission field. Programming will come and go as resources and interests dictate, but relationships will keep your ministry with students sustainable and effective at making and shaping new disciples.
Discipleship is all about relationships, so what if every (safe) person in your church built a relationship with a student (and their parents) that led that student (and their parents) to a relationship with Jesus?
…More on “(and their parents)” next time!…