What is God saying? And what are you going to do about it?
This will be the first of many posts on ideas youth pastors can use as they train their volunteer leaders to disciple students well.
As we began to build a culture of intentional discipleship in our youth ministry a number of years ago, I knew it would take more than great messages from the front and the passion of our staff team. If we were going to do this thing well, it meant teaching our volunteer leaders how to do more than lead a bible study or even a great discussion in their small group.
We were transitioning from programmatic youth ministry (I’m talking well oiled machine! Lights, fog, skits, big events, looking smooth) to a ministry where we would stop at nothing less than student’s’ lives looking more like Jesus’ life. It was a shift in priorities, but also a shift in practical mechanics.
If students were going to be discipled well, I needed to raise up leaders who could disciple. Up until this point, we had trained leaders to lead fantastic discussions during their small group time with their students. I had some of the best leaders around! And they were awesome at loving teenagers! We pre-packaged a discussion guide for them so they didn’t have to do much prep and could come in and do the relational stuff with students.
When I look at how Jesus discipled, he brought his guys WITH him. They FOLLOWED him. He taught them information, yes, but it was his LIFE they were imitating.
We were running a program, not discipling students. Pre-packaged youth ministry. We hoped that as students came to events, went on retreats, and stayed plugged into their small group that they would eventually catch it. It’s like an assembly line of programmatic youth ministry for students. We hoped that at then end popped out a passionate Jesus follower.
Then we learned how to disciple students with intentionality.
Now, I give my leaders tools they can pull out of their back pocket more organically during their time with students as they are talking about life, what God is doing, challenges that are coming up, etc.
One tool we train our leaders in is the Kairos Circle.
Kairos is a word that means a moment in time. We use it to describe a moment in time where the Lord is breaking in, intervening, and speaking something to us.
The Kairos Circle helps us know how to bring students to the place of making change. Lots of times we stay on the discussion side and never make it around to making a plan for change.
When the Lord breaks in and speaks something significant in a student’s life, our leaders are equipped to help the student mine out what it is that God is saying to them and what they are going to do about it.
Where small groups fall short is we talk a lot. We talk about God, we talk about the Bible, we talk about our lives. We rarely get around to changing anything or living differently because of what we talked about.
Discipling students well means helping them recognize when God is speaking, and helping them make a plan to do something about what God is saying.
Practically how we have used this in our youth ministry is this: We have Large Groups where there is worship and teaching. When our students get into small groups, their leader uses the Kairos Circle to help them decipher what God was saying during the teaching. They might ask questions like “What stuck out most to you during the message?”
As the students share, the leader helps them make a plan for what they are going to do about that particular thing God was saying. The group then can hold that student accountable to carrying out that plan. The next time they are together, the leader can ask how they are doing on following through on their plan.
Outside of the organized time together, as leaders are connecting with students on Facebook or meeting them for coffee, they use this tool there as well.
Recognizing where God is already speaking, making a plan to do something about it, being held accountable to the plan. That’s discipleship.
Raising up leaders who can do more than lead a bible study, but can train students to hear the voice of God for themselves and be radically obedient to what the Lord is saying. That’s discipleship.
(Bonus: I’ve found the leaders who have experienced the Kairos Circle first hand by being in a huddle themselves use this tool more readily, naturally, and with more skill because they have seen the fruit in their own lives. I train all my leaders in these tools, but there’s no substitute for huddling them!)