Ministry Fertilizer

Passing the Baton (1of 3)
November 26, 2007, 7:31 pm
Filed under: Principles of Youth Ministry

Passing the Baton

Youth Ministry as a Means to Discipling the Church

Eric Bancroft

Associate Pastor, High School Ministry 

I. Phase One: Fundamentals of Discipleship

“Discipleship” is not a new word for many of us, but it often can be a misunderstood word. In an attempt to be clear, let me tell you what I am not speaking about:

􀂃 Being a follower of Jesus

􀂃 Accountability

􀂃 Good friendship

􀂃 Other misconceptions

Discipleship involves components of these things, but it is far more comprehensive. We are to get our understanding of discipleship from the Bible because we see its

practice and its root. The practice of discipleship is clearly presented in the Bible. The word “disciple” in the Scriptures means “a learner who endeavors to obey what he has


Discipleship can be understood in general terms, and examples can be seen from Plato being discipled by Socrates to a new employee being discipled by his employer on the

details of the new job. But Christian discipleship is unique. The reason is because the goal of our discipleship is to learn the teachings of Jesus Christ and to obey all that He

has said. This is what Jesus Himself said in Matthew 28:19–20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of

the Holy Spirit, [1] teaching them [2] to observe [3] all that I have commanded you.” John says, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he

walked” (1 John 2:5–6).

Discipleship is what Jesus did to change the world. He invested Himself in 12 men to change the world. This is what Peter did. This is what John did. This is what Paul did.

“What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:1–2).

Being a follower of Jesus (learning and obeying) does not happen on your own. It happens in the context of a local church, with the help of other Christians. We are, after

all, one body building up the other as we honor Christ, our head.

A. Components of Discipleship

1. Relationship. God’s Word assumes relationships will be formed within the body of Christ. Discipleship is a process whereby more mature believers

(either in age, knowledge, or experience) instruct less mature believers both in words and in actions what it means to honor the Lord by understanding and

applying His Word.

2. Instruction. Discipleship assumes a body of knowledge that is to be learned. Christ has given us this in His Word.

3. Example. Godliness is learned as much by watching as by listening. Paul knew this. Philippians 3:17: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your

eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”

4. Accountability. Similar to a good friend, a discipler cares enough about the person he is discipling to hold him responsible to be a doer of the Word, not

just a hearer (James 1:22).

5. Encouragement. Sanctification takes time, and God is working in His providence on all of us to prepare us for glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “We were

ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

6. Correction. Due to ignorance, inexperience, sinfulness, or simple foolishness, we need people in our lives who love us enough to speak the truth. Friends can do that, but often a discipler can do that better because he can not only recognize a problem but also provide a solution.

A heart to be obedient as a Christian is a desire to be like your Savior Jesus Christ. A desire to be like your Savior Christ is to follow in His footsteps and in the apostles’ footsteps. They were the ones commissioned by Him.

B. When discipling, there are many areas to address. Here are some to consider:

􀂃 Sinful habits

􀂃 Spiritual disciplines (Bible study, prayer, evangelism)

􀂃 Biblical decision-making (how to know God’s will)

􀂃 Areas of service in the church

􀂃 Relationships with family, peers, coworkers, neighbors, pastors, etc.

􀂃 Future desires

Now, what we know to be true, based on either our former experience or our observation of others in our church, is that discipleship, as much as it is

commendable and evident in Scripture, is the exception and not the rule for many Christians.

You can hear the reasons given:

􀂃 “I never knew.”—Ignorance

􀂃 “I am too busy.”—Laziness

􀂃 “I don’t need help.”—Pride

􀂃 “It is embarrassing to tell people my problems.”—Sinful habits

We must shepherd people to understand discipleship’s place not only in the Bible but also in their lives, for their good and for God’s glory.

With that foundation laid down so that we are standing on the same platform, now let me talk about taking the understanding of discipleship in youth ministry and structuring your

youth ministry appropriately.


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