Good morning fellow Youth workers! Today we have the lovely Kaitlin from The Barefoot Blog to encourage us! She’s sharing about the important role discipleship plays in our teenagers lives and draws from her own experience. If you’re feeling discouraged in this area of ministry today, this post is for you. Welcome, Kaitlin!
“Monday nights were the highlight of my week in high school. Each week, one of my youth pastors and her roommate had my best friend and I over for dinner. They would tell us about their lives, listen to our teenage drama, and continually challenge us in our walks with God. Here we are, seven years later, and they are still some of the most influential women in my life. I look back at the selflessness (and bravery) it took for two twenty-somethings to delve into the deep, emotional, and temperamental waters of two fifteen-year-old girls. As it turns out, those weekly talks over a kitchen table ended up being more influential than any sermon, Bible study, camp, or small group experience. Intentional discipleship changed the course of my life as a teenager, and I would venture to say I am not the only one.
Intentional discipleship truly is one of the most powerful and effective tools we have when it comes to investing in the next generation. According to Christianity today, one factor that is common among teenagers who stay in church after graduating is “at least one adult from church made a significant investment in them personally and spiritually.” Hanging out one-on-one, asking tough questions, and sharing our lives are some of the most impactful things we can do for the next gen.
The Importance Of Discipleship
One of the most sobering truths about the importance of discipleship is hidden within the first few chapters of the book of Judges. At this time in history, Joshua led a generation of people to the Promised Land, and they experienced the power of God in so many incredible ways. Joshua was a God-fearing leader who implored His flock to serve the Lord–and they did.
“The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.” -Judges 2:7
This generation saw God do mighty miracles before their eyes. They knew Him, loved Him, and lived their lives trusting in Him. As exciting as it is to hear that a generation finally got it right in Israel, the next verse brings a haunting reality:
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel…they forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.” -Judges 2: 10-12
How is it that a generation who knew the Lord so intimately would be succeeded by a generation who knew nothing about Him or what He had done? We cannot know for sure how the previous generation raised up the next, but my mind immediately raises the question, “Did the older generation disciple and invest truth into the next generation? Did this generation simply not know the Lord because no one ever told them?”
Thinking about an entire generation not knowing the Lord because no one took the time to sit down and invest truth into them–terrifies me. God’s grace upon our lives has given us so many stories to tell. We owe it to the next generation to wear those stories out and pass on all of the things the Lord has taught us. Even if we are just a couple steps ahead of them in our walk with God, that is okay. It is enough.
How Do I Disciple Someone?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the term “discipleship” just puts a ton of pressure on me. “Who do I disciple? What will we talk about? What do I do?!” Whether you are well acquainted with discipleship or even if it totally confuses you, know this: It is simple. I love the way that Efrem Smith describes discipleship. He says discipleship is “living out of the overflow of God’s love and grace for our lives by pouring into others. It’s life on life, spiritual mentoring that invites someone else to follow Christ with us.” Discipleship is first, loving Jesus with everything you are, and then taking someone else with you on that journey.
God is so faithful to point out people in our paths that we could invest in. Just ask Him–He is always faithful to deliver. Maybe discipleship looks like Monday night dinners, playing sports together, going on occasional coffee dates, meeting during lunch breaks, or even doing a Bible study together. There isn’t a formula–You’re free to be creative! The important thing is being consistent, intentional, and honest in your time together.
A Call to Invest
The bottom line is this: the next generation needs us. They need our testimonies to strengthen their faith, our honesty about our struggles so they know they aren’t alone, affirmation to push them along in their faith journey, and guidance for those decisions they are having a hard time making. One-on-one discipleship gives students the opportunity to feel like they have someone to look up to, process life with, and to walk alongside them as they make their way through a rather confusing season of life.
You have a story to tell, and they need to hear your story. You have encouragement that was given to you that could make all of the difference in their lives. Those gifts God gave you? He can use them to equip someone else. As the love of Christ pours into your life, allow it to overflow into the lives of the generation behind you.
Invest. Dig deep. Be real. Be raw. Be you.”
- How can you be a part of discipling the next generation?
- What is your experience with one on one discipleship?
Kaitlin Garrison is a wife to a youth pastor and a mom of two rambunctious puppies. She is a lover of writing, singing, and a good chat over coffee on the porch. She is passionate about investing in the next generation of women to follow Christ with their lives. You can find Kaitlin over at The Barefoot Blog.