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5 things you can do this week to prioritize disciple-making

In the fall of 2013, our ministry reached a crossroads. Our large group gathering was growing, but we weren’t sure if we were actually making disciples of the students attending. In one staff meeting I asked, “How many of the 125 students we see each week are fully committed disciples?”

It’s impossible to truly know the answer to that question. But, when the best guess given was “five or six” I knew we had a lot of work to do. I knew we needed a system that turned students into disciples.

That meeting started us on a journey. Since then, I’ve been searching for the best model of how to turn students into disciples who make other disciples. Here are five things I do every week to prioritize disciple making.

Start meeting in huddles for discipleship.

I have weekly discipleship meetings with students in groups of 4-5. We call these groups huddles. This is a model developed by 3dm. If you haven’t read this series of books from Mike Breen and the 3dm team, I highly recommend it.

Meeting in huddles is efficient. Some conversations have to be one on one (more on that later). But, I’ve found that leading discipleship huddles allows me to have a greater, more focused impact with the time I do have with students.

I lead two huddles a week. And thanks to this article from Paul Worcester, I’m planning to start a third huddle in the spring to disciple some of our younger students.

Don’t do anything alone unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I spend plenty of time alone. A chunk of that is used to prepare to teach. I also do a monthly prayer retreat which is some of the most important ministry I do every month. But, I only want to be alone when I have to be.

As you go about your day and do the things that you’re already doing, think about who you can invite along with you. Or even better, think about who’s already there with you!

As a general rule, I try never to do anything alone unless it’s necessary. Some of the best discipleship happens on long car rides. Even if you’re running a short errand, take a student with you. This could be valuable time spent investing in someone.

Discipline yourself to have the hard conversations.

Making disciples just means teaching people to be like Jesus. If we pass up opportunities to lovingly confront students who need it, we’re passing up opportunities to teach them to be more like Christ.

Ultimately, it’s unloving to allow someone to hurt themselves and not say something to them. Those conversations aren’t fun. But, it could be the catalyst for a radical life change.

Reach the campus by focusing on a few.

In the Gospels, Jesus spends time with many different people. But, he is consistently with the twelve.

Jesus focused on 12, really focused on 3, and lost 1 along the way. I assume I won’t be able to do as well as Jesus. That means I’m going to be discipling a small group of students most of the time. Knowing this keeps me focused.

Jesus impacted many by focusing on a few.

We’ll reach the campus by focusing on a few.

Let your insecurities go.

We all need to watch someone closely as they follow Jesus in order to learn to follow Jesus ourselves. So, if we’re going to make disciples, it’s incredibly important that students have access to our lives…our real lives.

It’s not unusual for us to armor up and keep people at a distance because of our insecurities. I feel it too. There’s always this nagging feeling that I don’t know enough, that I’m not enough like Christ.

The reality is, I’m a work in progress, but I do know a few things. I try to focus on sharing those things.

I simply share what I do know.

I try to show students how I follow Jesus.