It was very satisfying to see UNIT Youth reflect on a terrific year last Friday night. A formal dinner was held in the Parish Centre to celebrate. I am especially thankful for Mitch and his team of leaders. Why? Because I have seen them make and grow disciples!
The Christian youth leader can have an endless number of roles in the life of a young person. Friend, encourager, example, skateboard instructor, Bible teacher, prayer partner, motivator, maths tutor, mentor, guitar teacher. I’m sure there’s more! That’s cool. What an exciting thing to be involved in so many different ways in young lives! But among the many things a youth leader can do, what should be their main responsibility?
I believe that fundamental to the role of youth leadership is making disciples who will then go on to make disciples. The Great Commission is the key:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20 NIV)
Disciples are to be made “of all nations” with an agenda of “teaching them to obey” Jesus. This is the pattern “to the very end of the age”. The commission is not fundamentally about mission “out there” somewhere else in another country. It’s a commission that makes disciple-making the normal agenda and priority of every church and every Christian disciple.
The foundation of Biblical Youth Ministry
Disciples making disciples is the bread and butter of Christian life and ministry. Discipleship doesn’t just include work with Christian young people, but it includes getting them (evangelism) and then growing them (edification).
What does the Bible say about Christian ministry?
“We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed —God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 4b-6a).
It is interesting to note the repeated phrase “you know” in 1 Thess 2:1-16. The believers in Thessalonica knew about Paul because they knew Paul. As Paul shared the gospel with them, he shared his very life because they had become dear to him (1 Thess 2:8). The key discipleship tool in Paul’s belt is “the word of God”. They heard it from Paul (Silas and Timothy) but they received it as the very word of God, and it is that word that is now at work in them (1 Thess 2:13).
The main game
Why spend a whole article talking about something that might seem obvious? Because it’s easy to forget the main game! We need to keep praying for our youth group. It’s not entertainment. It’s not running games. It’s not being popular. It’s about disciples making disciples. They share their lives, they share the gospel of Jesus’ death & resurrection and they let God’s word do its work in young lives.