Discipleship matters. We know this. We also know that the way we disciple people in our lives matters.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that life can and WILL change instantly. It also forced us to get creative in how we do ministry!
We often see formulas for discipleship. These are great . . . but I have a secret for you. There is no one-size-fits-all formula.
We can breathe a sigh of relief.
We know our students and young adults. We know what they need and how they respond. We also know that God is faithful and He is with us in every situation.
Still, if we don’t change, we don’t grow. It is ALWAYS worth looking at current trends in discipleship, in communication, and in the global Church to see what is working.
Last year, during lockdown, we had to adapt. For many churches, this was their first foray into meeting online, and now, most churches have multiple online services and discipleship meetings each week.
A few months into the pandemic, youth pastors realized Zoom was a great tool for adults, but it was not working for our students after months of online schooling.
So what did we do? We adjusted. We spent a lot of time doing research and collaborating with our colleagues to share ideas. We had birthday parades and Chick-fil-A drop-offs. We had socially-distanced meetups and even went back to sending letters in the mail.
Youth pastors and leaders are doing incredible things for their students that reflect the love of Christ in addition to their weekly youth group and church services. I encourage you—this is important work!
To be blunt, we do whatever it takes to let our teens and young adults know that we care. This includes being willing to try discipleship trends, whether it’s a TikTok devotional or an Instagram Live Bible study.
Sometimes, these things are a spectacular failure . . . . But often, it leads us to amazing opportunities to connect with believers from all over the world (like the NYI Journey Event we’re taking part in this summer).
As you prepare to continue to step out in faith, here are five reasons to follow discipleship trends:
1. Communication is constantly changing.
Some of us loved talking on the phone as teenagers, but our students would rather text or Snapchat. While meeting together in person is incredibly important, we need to be willing to shake up our methods of communication.
2 . If we aren’t meeting our students where they are (in real life or virtually), someone else will.
Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with our students, and if we aren’t utilizing it, we are missing out on building credible connections. If we aren’t meeting our students online, they’ll get their answers elsewhere. We don’t have to show up perfectly, but we do need to show up.
3. If we want different results, we should be willing to try something new.
I get it—sometimes, we might have a great idea only to end up being a total flop. We do NOT like to fail, but if we want to build deeper relationships with our students, we have to be willing to engage them in new ways. And sometimes, this means failing.
4. Teens and young adults know when you are invested.
This idea may seem a little out of place, but think about it. When we care about someone and want to invest in them, we do whatever it takes to engage them, even if it
means trying something totally out of our comfort zone (Instagram Reels, anyone?).
5. We will also become better disciples.
As someone who works with students, I learn the most when I go into a new situation realizing that I know very little. Trying something new can be challenging, but it teaches us many valuable lessons.
I am always surprised at how God chooses to work (mostly because it’s never how I expect!). The past year has been a testimony of this.
“Instagram Reels ministering to me when I needed it the most? No way! Connecting with other believers via Zoom? It can’t possibly be as effective.”
And yet… it works.
It all works. When we step out in faith and are willing to dip our toes into the unfamiliar waters of doing discipleship differently, we are trusting God and showing people that we minister to that they matter.