Have you ever wondered why fitness center memberships can be so expensive or why they require you to have a certain length of contract? Many fitness centers would actually say that charging a higher rate and expecting a commitment from their customers will actually make the customers happier. People use their services because they have a strong desire to be healthy, which motivates them to seek help. Therefore, they are actually helping customers follow through with their resolutions and achieve their goals more effectively by asking for a bigger commitment and charging a higher price. It’s quite a concept.
The call for mutual responsibility by the disciple and the teacher in Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is a similar concept. If you truly want to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, it requires commitment and sacrifice. If you really want to be a disciple, you must drop your nets and follow after Christ, or “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow.”
I understand that not everyone is ready for this type of sacrifice and commitment (or, in the case of the fitness center membership, maybe can’t afford it). This is one of the biggest ways discipleship is different than what is most commonly done in the Church. Typically, a Church will offer the same programs to everyone, and every program is so general in nature that it’s not really offering anything substantial to any one demographic. In discipleship, where the process and content are focused on the particular needs of each individual, there will be specific moments that challenge and call the individual to an even deeper commitment. It is in making these commitments that a disciple is able to truly grow.
Here are a few ideas to help you establish mutual responsibility in your discipleship group setting.
Be a Committed Leader
It is important to note that this is “mutual” responsibility. When asking the youth to make a commitment for themselves, they must be given the confidence that you will be committed to this journey together.
Communicate The Expectations
As a leader, be sure you are communicating what the expectations are for meetings, spiritual disciplines, commitments outside of the regular meetings, etc. Do not be afraid to make a covenant of sorts that communicates what you are both committing to. Writing these expectations down will do wonders in establishing a good understanding among everyone involved.
Call Each Other Out
When the expectations are not being met, do not be afraid to call each other out. As a leader, be ok with the youth calling you out when you are moving towards being less committed. Practice patience and gentleness in challenging those you are working with to keep their commitments as well.
Especially in a group setting, it is important to hold each person accountable to the standards your group has decided to set. When one or two people are slacking in their commitments to the group, it can be a parasite to the culture you have spent time building so far.
Re-Evaluate Responsibilities Regularly
Once or twice a year (or more often if needed), go through what you previously agreed to and decide as a group if it looks good or if things need to be adjusted. Ideally, you will be able to set higher expectations over time, especially if they are more specific in practice.
I am going to throw this post up on our Facebook Group and would love to hear your thoughts on this. What are some ways you can begin to establish a greater understanding of the responsibility in discipleship among both the leader and the student?