One of my favorite testimonies about building a Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry comes from a parish I work with. They have two different discipleship group leaders who, since beginning to lead their group, have had spouses also express interest in joining a group. This is a beautiful sign of fruit being born in the lives of leaders in that parish. The joy and growth that they are experiencing through discipling teens is something that their spouses see and desire as well. It’s not like it’s an easy task for both spouses to lead a group (trust me, my wife and I know!), but the sacrifice brings great rewards.
I can remember teaching a religious education class many years back. I am confident that the only thing my wife would’ve seen after an average class was me throwing the teacher’s book in the corner and not wanting to think about class again until the next week. What is it about the experience of these adults that makes Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry different than other approaches? What is it that’s so inviting and seems to draw out a deeper commitment of time to the parish and its efforts to disciple young people? Here are three areas upon which to focus that will leave your adults wanting more and make volunteering for youth ministry attractive to new volunteers as well.
Your Ministry Provides Community for the Adults Involved
One of the best things you can do for your adults is to provide opportunities that will build community among them, giving them a place to be with other leaders who desire to grow as well. Learning from others and facing challenges together creates an intimacy that makes it very difficult to leave even if you wanted to.
Your Adults are Growing Spiritually as a Result of Being Involved
If you can cultivate an atmosphere where adults understand the importance of being a disciple first and commit to growing as a disciple, it will not take long for them to see that God has them leading a group not just for the youth involved, but to form and grow themselves as well.
Your Adults are Seeing the Fruit of Discipleship
Anyone who has been involved in youth ministry for some time knows the feeling of seeing a youth encounter Christ for the first time or take that next step in their relationship with Him. It reminds us of the many graces that God has given us over our lifetime and fills us personally in a profound way. When you enable your volunteers to effectively foster discipleship within the teens of your parish, they will see this and it will change them.
Accomplishing these things is not easy, but it is possible. I truly believe that establishing a Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry model in a parish helps to properly orient the ministries toward providing these types of opportunities for adults. I’m certain that this is why I have seen more fruit born in the lives of the adults involved in Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry than in the youth, which is exactly what we need!