"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Five Core Principles Core Principle #3: Discipleship Ministry

Maturing Students in Christ (Part 2)

Dr. Barry St. Clair

Think about the people who influenced you while you were growing up. Then single out the one person who had the most influence. Why do you think he or she had such an impact on you?

As leaders, we can be a significant influence on students today. Jesus tells us how we can make a deep and lasting impact on the lives of others. Take a minute to read Matthew 28:18-20. Circle the words "make disciples," because those are the key words in that passage.

The last session contained five elements that should become the basis for our ministry as we disciple others. This session deals with what takes place as students begin to grow toward maturity in Christ through discipleship.

The Authority for Disciple-Making

The beginning point for making disciples is authority. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me" (Matt. 28:18). Having that authority, Jesus had the absolute right to exercise His power using all of the resources of heaven and earth. Disciple-making is characterized by life change because God's supernatural power works in the lives of people. Before we can truly disciple others, we must have authority based on Christ's supernatural power.

Jesus wasn't the sole possessor of God's authority. He told His disciples, "I have given you authority" (Luke 10:19). A judge's authority when he is holding court comes from the power that a higher authority has given him. The same principle is true of Christians. We have Christ's delegated authority because He resides in us and is conforming us to His image.

Because we have Christ's authority, we also have all the resources of heaven and earth available to us. Why is it then, that some people don't experience more power in their lives? The problem stems from a lack of spiritual maturity. God doesn't want us to have power that we can't handle. Think in terms of a relationship between a father and his teenage son. The son wants more authority, but sometimes lacks the maturity to respond properly to increased freedom. So the father grants privileges gradually. Similarly, Jesus' authority is unleashed in direct proportion to our levels of maturity to handle it. As Christians mature, more of His power flows through them to others.

The Steps for Disciple-Making

As a youth leader, you have Christ's delegated authority to "go and make disciples." You can impact others' lives through disciple-making in such a way that they will grow to maturity as Christians. In this session, you will look at four stair steps every leader needs to help his student disciple climb. Each step builds on the preceding one(s).

STEP #1 EVANGELIZE-Jesus said "Go and make disciples." Implied in His statement is the fact that before a student can grow as a disciple, he must first become a disciple. So if we are to be disciple-makers, we must first know how to help someone come to know Christ. As leaders, we can follow the example of the early church. Michael Green, a noted author and evangelist from Oxford, says that the early church "gossiped the Gospel." Jesus was the topic of conversation because the believers in the early church were convinced that everyone needed to know Jesus Christ.

Jesus modeled a conviction for evangelization throughout His life. He "went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field' " (Matt. 9:35-38).

Is communicating your faith to others a part of your daily lifestyle? If so, you are already on the road to becoming a disciple-maker. If not, go to your youth minister or pastor and ask him to take you out and show you how to share Christ with others.

STEP #2: ESTABLISH-Jesus said, "Make disciples baptizing." The reason Jesus connected "make disciples" with "baptizing" is because baptism identifies people with Jesus. It was His desire that people immediately identify with Him. In order for disciples to become firmly established in their faith, He knew that they must "raise their flag" concerning their new relationship with Him. Baptism was the outward sign for their inner commitment.

After baptism has taken place, growth can take place. Young children pick up habits and attitudes from their parents that are unique to their family. In much the same way, God's children need to be nurtured so they will begin to reflect the character of Christ. (See I Thes. 2:7, 11-12.)

This nurturing process was beautifully carried out in Acts 2 as new believers identified with Christ through baptism and then became devoted to the apostles' teaching. All of this commitment was surrounded by an atmosphere of fellowship as they met together daily. Disciples who are never established in the basics of their faith are not likely to continue to grow.

STEP #3 EQUIP-Jesus said, "Make disciples ... teaching." Jesus meant for His followers to move beyond the basics of their faith. Part of the process of development is preparation "for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Eph. 4:12). After we firmly establish new believers in their faith, the next step is to help them learn how to equip others.

The disciples became equipped to help others in much the same way as an unskilled carpenter becomes a skilled cabinet-maker -through apprenticeship. Jesus' disciples watched His example, listened to His teaching, and then obeyed His commands. They also received His Spirit. They became equippers.

The early church also understood the importance of equipping. They selected "seven men ... who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). These men were fully equipped to help others grow. One of the prime marks of a healthy disciple in this stage is that he is ministering to others. The way you teach a student to minister is by letting him see your personal ministry.

STEP #4: EXTEND - Jesus said, "Make disciples of all nations." Jesus had this step in mind as the ultimate end to His earthly ministry. He knew He would be leaving all His work in the hands of His disciples. And in order for His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, He knew they must learn to extend their ministry. It's obvious that the disciples learned well from Jesus, because in Acts I - 5, the church added to its membership. But from that point on, the church multiplied.

As a person moves to the extension level, the relationship between the discipler and the disciple changes. One student described it this way: "When we started out we had a 'father/son' relationship. The leader did the motivating, teaching, and guiding. Then as time went by, he began to give me responsibility for ministering to others. During that time, we moved more to a 'partner' relationship. I remember us often saying that a discipler's responsibility is to work himself out of a job."

When you have moved into a "partner" relationship with your student disciple, you have extended your ministry from one to two. At this level, you are on your way to fulfilling the Great Commission.

As you help others grow to maturity through the disciple- making process, you will experience the ultimate in ministry to students. And you will be able to say with the Apostle Paul: "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy" (I Thes. 2:19-20).

4. Read I Thessalonians 2:4-12. List five prerequisites to becoming an equipper. Beside each one, explain why you think that would be necessary for equipping someone.


Importance of Prerequisites


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5. What effect do you think this process of discipline (evangelizing, establishing, equipping, and extending) could have on your youth group?



6. In what ways is your church already carrying out the process of discipleship?




7. Memorize Matthew 28:18-20.

Source Information

This article is from Building Leaders for Strategic Youth Ministry: Equipping Adults to Lead Students to Spiritual Maturity, by Barry St. Clair, pp. 66-69. Used by permission. This book is designed for use by youth ministers as they train other adults who want to be involved in youth ministry. It can be ordered through our bookstore by clicking "BUY RESOURCES" on the left menu or calling our office at 1-800-473-9456.


Barry St. Clair is founder and director of Reach Out Youth Solutions, which equips youth workers and young people for strategic ministry through the church around the world. He has worked with youth leaders and young people for over 30 years in evangelism and discipleship. Barry holds both Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministries degrees and is the author of numerous books. You are currently on Reach Out's site.