Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a student make a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
But how many ministries are ready to disciple students after a decision?
As you celebrate with the student, his family, and your church, you have to answer this important question:
“How will this student be discipled?”
Is it through a small group for new believers? Do you hand them a book to read? Do you connect a student to an adult mentor?
Sure, the process looks different for each church, but the important part is that you have a process.
Salvation happens instantly. Discipleship is a lifetime process of maturing.
Below are a few resources I have used for our students. I wanted to pass them along to you. I don’t have any affiliate links in this post – I simply believe in the effectiveness of these resources to encourage new Christians to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
These books will work well for your student ministry – no matter what your discipleship process looks like.
4 Books That Are Perfect For New Christians In Your Student Ministry
New: First Steps For New Christ-Followers (By YouthMinistry360)
This journal works as a stand-alone devotional or a four-week small group curriculum that you can walk through with your students. I like it because of the easy-to-understand devotional layout that covers what it means to be a Christian, knowing God, and how we are to live a new life.
Refuel: An Uncomplicated Guide To Connecting With God (By Doug Fields)
Doug Fields has created a concise and clear book about what it means to connect with God. As youth workers, we don’t want to be guilty of saying, “Just start reading the book of John and you will get the hang of a devotional time.” This book offers practical tips and encouragement to discover what it means to connect with Jesus. It also includes small group questions in the back for youth workers who want to meet up and discuss chapters with their students.
Student Survival Kit: An Essential Guide For New Christians (By Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. And Lifeway)
Are you looking for a book that is packed with Scriptures and covers the essentials of what it means to be a Christian? Then Student Survival Kit is your book! This book by Lifeway is an eleven-week devotional that walks through the fundamentals of theology (Indwelling of Christ, Body of Christ, The Old and New Nature, Salvation, Authority, Prayer, Witnessing) by laying out passages of Scripture and allowing the reader to chew on each topic in daily bite-sized chunks.
Wired: A 4-Week Devotional Experience For Students (By Rodney & Sarah Anderson)
Produced by Orange, Wired is an awesome resource that covers how to connect with God and others. This book is a four-week devotional guide packed with small group materials. You can purchase teaching videos to view along with the book. Wired is an incredible resource for your student ministry if you do a new Christian class or small group.
What other resources have you found that help new believers grow in their relationship Jesus?
There is no greater tribe in the world than student ministry workers and nowhere greater than Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention!
This is going to be an incredible weekend where you are encouraged, equipped, and empowered to continue in one of the greatest callings in the world – serving students!
Conferences can be a blur of a weekend. It is easy to feel like a middle schooler who has attended summer camp for the first time!
As you hang out in downtown Cincinnati this weekend make sure that you take advantage of these two areas.
Don’t Miss These 2 Opportunities At NYWC16
Strategize How You Can Impact Your School Campuses
The conference’s focus is centered on moving student ministries outside of their own walls and impacting the school campuses in their area. Use this weekend as a time of prayer and strategy to see how God has uniquely positioned your church to impact the community.
Hang Out With Some Incredible Youth Workers
Old friends and new friends alike will be at this conference. Don’t be so busy walking from session to session and miss the incredible youth workers who are in attendance! This is your chance to be the kid at the event! Don’t worry about planning, scheduling, and perfecting your weekend! Grab some coffee, gather for some meals, and get to know the heart of people who are ministering alongside of you.
I’m always searching for a list of great books to chew on and digest.
We have all heard the encouragements that leaders are learning and I know that this is true for my own leadership. Student and children pastors need a steady stream of quality books that shape their theology, character, and leadership.
Now, before someone comments that I didn’t list the Bible as one of my books (you know who you are) I want to let you know that I have been walking through, what I call, the 90-day journey. Click the link to find out how I am investing in my health, soul, and family.
Back to the list: Here are 5 books that I have read in the past 5 months that you need to add to your reading list.
5 Books Every Student Pastor Needs To Read
Dangerous Calling: Confronting The Unique Challenges Of Pastoral Ministry
Paul David Tripp has served as a pastor, professor, and counselor to thousands of seminary students and pastors. His perspective of the potential pitfalls in ministry sheds light on the pressures every pastor deals with. This needs to be your next read!
Comeback: It’s Never Too Late And You’re Never Too Far
Louie Giglio writes about new beginnings and how God is all about comebacks. One of the greatest impacts on me was how he shares several personal stories about his own struggles in ministry.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Eric Metaxes creates an extensive biography on one of the greatest preachers in the 20th Century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Faced with the greatest evil our world has seen in recent history, Bonhoeffer courageously decides to leave the United States and travel back to Germany to stand against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Reading what one pastor was willing to sacrifice for his people, his country, and his Lord will encourage you to stand for Jesus in the smaller areas of life.
Man Myth Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question
Did Jesus really exist? Rice Broocks 2nd book in the God’s Not Dead line practically unpacks some of our culture’s questions about Jesus. This book is an easier read than some of your seminary textbooks, but the arguments for Jesus as the Messiah are powerfully communicated. This is a good starting point as your students and families have questions and doubts about Jesus.
H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle
Brad Lomenick share’s his insights from working with Catalyst, one of the nation’s largest movements of Christian leaders, He walks through three questions: Who am I? Where do I want to go? How will I get there? Most of the leadership books I read tend to solely focus on the last question “How will I get there?” and fail to address the heart and mind of a leader. This book packs a punch. I would highly suggest it as your next leadership book.
These books have been shaping my heart, mind, and have stoked my fire for ministry.
What other books have you been reading that you would suggest to me?
The practice of adding intentional prayer to your day is nothing new — plenty of ministry leaders will tell you to pray throughout your day whenever you can. Praying while driving is a really popular suggestion, and it’s a great one because most of us drive several times a day and can use that time to connect with God and refocus ourselves on His purposes.
If you often pray while driving, or you want to start, school zones are a great place to pray through, for, and about! Your ministry, whether it’s family ministry, youth ministry, or children’s ministry, is deeply connected to local schools.
Here are five ways I am striving to pray as school is starting and have committed to continue praying as the school year continues.
5 Prayers To Pray As You Drive Through A School Zone
Pray That Students Experience The Unconditional Love And Acceptance Of Jesus
Students are looking to fit in and experience community. This can often lead to bad decisions and regrets, but it doesn’t have to. We should pray that students in our community experience first-time salvations and recommitments.
Pray For The Teachers And Administrators To Draw Near To Jesus
Administrators and faculty need to lead with the Fruit of the God’s Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). They can only lead with these when they are humbly depending on King Jesus.
Pray For Protection
As you drive by, pray for the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental protection of the students, staff, and faculty. Schools are community hubs. Within the classrooms are the most vulnerable people in our society — children. We must pray for their protection.
Pray For Jesus Followers To Be Bold
Schools need believers to stand in the hallways and extend the love and truth of Jesus. Pray that students are bold enough to set an example and stand up for their beliefs. Pray also that they would become emboldened to share the Gospel.
Pray For The Parents
Between school and extracurricular activities, parents can end up feeling like glorified taxi drivers. But we know that they are much more than that! We need to pray for them to be energized, encouraged, and equipped to lead their children to become followers of Jesus.
What times and places are you setting aside to pray specifically for your students and local schools?
Can we all agree that being a student is extremely difficult?
With the influx of technology and accessibility, students seem to be more stressed and more discouraged than ever before. The advancements that promised an easy life has caused thousands of students headaches as they try to navigate who they are and how God made them. Students need relationships. They need encouragement. They need Jesus.
Many student ministries are set up so that the weekly service opportunities for students in the church basically boil down to the greeting time at midweek services. As a result, students don’t take ownership, get excited, or invite friends to church. They also tend to dismiss community service projects as just another thing to go to … and they skip out.
Empowering students to serve within the local church will accomplish a variety of really positive outcomes! Students will develop in their faith and take an owner’s mentality. They will be excited about the things your ministry is doing, and they will invite their friends. Students will see how service helps them grow spiritually, and they will look for ways to serve outside the church too.
Here are seven ideas to get you started.
How To Create A Student Ministry Of Doers
- Plan Services
This is one area your students can help keep your student ministry engaged in culture. Give them the sermon outline and allow them to help the worship team create (with guidance) engaging and creative midweek experiences.
- Follow Up With Guests
Most student ministries gather contact information on visitors (if not, you need to start) and have adults send a card to visiting students. Imagine the impact you could have if your upperclassmen sent cards or made it a priority to maintain connection with visitors while at school? You can still be the one who addresses cards and makes phone calls so there are no confidentiality issues, but transferring part of the responsibility to your students will benefit everyone!
- Lead Games
Students need to be up front as much as possible during worship. They need to see their peers on stage reading Scripture, praying, and acting as leaders. Give them some game resources, let them learn the rules, and schedule them in the worship set. For great game ideas check out FunNinja.org and DownloadYouthMinistry.com.
- Lead Kids Worship
High school students are perfect to help with Kids Worship on Sunday mornings. Our church has two services plus a Bible study hour, so I expect our student leadership team to attend corporate worship service plus help serve in Kids Worship. They lead songs, participate in skits, give devotions, and facilitate games. Your students will grow deeper in Scripture through preparing Bible studies and leading kids.
- Plan Trips and Events
There have been times that I thought an event would be a surefire hit and found out that it was a flop. Pass event ideas by your students so you can get their honest feedback. They have awesome ideas that will reach their generation.
- Announcement Videos
Announcements can be boring and dry. Give your students a list of announcements, a time limit (one minute or so) and send them out with their smart phones to create something! This will help them open up conversations with their friends about church and Jesus when they post the videos online.
- Empower Them To Share The Gospel With Their Friends
Whether you are a small group leader or student pastor, you must empower students to be vocal about their faith. Talk about it often, and give them training and resources to do it. If the extent of their evangelism is just inviting people to attend a church service, they will never learn to articulate their faith for themselves.
- Brainstorm Sermon Topics
When you are outlining your preaching calendar you should ask your students about the issues they are currently facing and the questions they have. This is an easy way to ensure you connect with your group and minister in the areas they need encouragement.
One of my motivations behind writing a book called Doer was to help students own their faith and start to make a difference in their community and across the globe. As ministry leaders we must move from enabling passive faith to expecting dynamic service.
To learn more about Doer, click on the image and head to the site. We have bulk discounts so you can walk through the book with your students.
Humans were created to live in relationship with one another.
In Genesis we read that God knew Adam would need more fulfilling relationships than simply having nature – humans need humans. (Genesis 2:18)
The foundational key to discipleship is relationship: This is how humanity exists and why Jesus endured the cross. Without relationships, discipleship fails. Thriving and sustainable churches understand that every ministry (from the welcome team to the worship band to the nursery volunteers and beyond) must build a culture that values people over programs. While programs are important to reach our mission to preach the Gospel, they are nothing more than a tool to further the mission.
We know relationships are key, but along the way church ministries start moving away from relationships into ministry management. Let’s be honest, relationships are tough! To be invested relationally with others means that you are committing your time, energy, finances, and care to a smaller group of people. It is far easier to serve on the outskirts of relationships than to be invested in others’ lives. So many fail to invest relationally and are consumed with busywork inside the church.
Below are three habits that, when left unaddressed, can hinder relational ministry.
3 Habits That Hinder Relational Ministry
- Affirming the Ministry Without Partnering in Mission
Pastors know that you agree with the student ministry. If you didn’t affirm it, you would be seeking to serve at another church. Ministries do not need a head nod of approval but committed partners who are rolling up their sleeves to do work. Partners invest relationally.
- Asking About People Instead of Using Direct Communication
As a youth pastor and I chatted over coffee a few weeks ago, we discussed a weird phenomenon that church members fall into. It is the thought that asking other people about a person is the same as directly asking the person. Confused yet? Some people would rather pick up the phone and text 12 people to ask why someone has missed church instead of directly talking to the person who wasn’t there. If we are going to build relational ministries we need people to check in and minister directly to those in their small groups.
- Serving People Without Investing in People
Handing out a bottle of water with your church’s name is an easy way to say you are doing ministry without actually building relationships. As I stated above, ministry happens through relationships and at times those relationships will be frustrating, costly, and time consuming. Ministry leaders must avoid service opportunities that promote service that is void of relationships. Don’t get me wrong, serving in tangible ways meets immediate needs, but if you never build a relationship you will never be able to make lasting impact.
In what areas are your ministries avoiding investing relationally?