Helping students reach their personal ministry targets, part 5
This is the fifth article in a five-part series defining the game-changing strategy of Personal Ministry Targets. Click here for part four.
Prepare for “Persons of Peace”
Often the Lord will lead you to “gatekeepers.” These are people who can open doors to whole groups of people.
In Luke 10 Jesus sent out 72 disciples to go “ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”
In verses 5-7 Jesus told them to seek out a “person of peace” who would welcome them and serve as the home base for their ministry in the area. The person “lend[s] their credibility” to the missionary, enabling the gospel message to spread more rapidly within the target area.
There is no “one size fits all” description for persons of peace. It takes prayer and discernment to discover who they may be.
Here are some questions to consider when seeking persons of peace:
- Is this person open to hearing about Christ? Are they open to the idea of others in the group hearing about Jesus also? They don’t need to be a believer. They just need to be open.
- Are they willing to help host a Bible study in their dorm or apartment for their friends?
- Does the person have a reputation? It can be a good reputation or bad reputation (see the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4).
- Are they an influencer? They don’t need to be the president of the group, but it’s helpful if they have some influence.
The way to discover persons of peace is to sow broadly with the gospel. We have discovered them in all kinds of random ways on campus.
Cody Bryan, one of our staff members, met with a freshman named Noah who turned to Jesus on the spot! At the end of the meeting Cody asked, “Are there any of your friends who may want to hear about this?”
The next day Noah invited his friend, John, to meet. Noah and Cody shared Christ with him, he made a profession of faith, and was later baptized!
A few days later John and Noah invited Ryan and a staff member named Sloan to another meeting and he trusted Jesus!
Within a week of being a believer Noah had the chance to see two of his friends hear and respond to the gospel!
Ryan has now become one of the leaders in our ministry and has led a number of students to Jesus! He now faithfully labors within his fraternity to share Jesus with them.
It can be very helpful to follow up with a new believer in their dorm room or lounge. This gives you a chance to rub shoulders with their buddies. You can ask, “Would any of your friends be interested in learning more about Jesus and discussing the Bible?”
Any new believer could be a person of peace. They can open up whole groups of people.
From the beginning give them a vision to multiply disciples. We use a series called “Be A Disciple”. It’s simple obedience-based Bible studies on the basics of following Christ.
If you have a mix of non-believers and new believers in the study then a “Discovery Bible Study” or using “Seven Stories of Hope” might fit your context better than basic discipleship lessons. However, both work well.
If you think a person may be a person of peace, it is important to spend as much time as possible with them, then empower them to reach their friends. Hang out with them on their turf, and, if you can, start an investigative study with their friends!
Ask God to continue to open up pockets of people on campus by providing you persons of peace!
Parent New Believers and Promote Community
If someone in your target area becomes a follower of Jesus, praise the Lord! Now, get to work following up with them personally.
This person should become a VIP in your life. Take them under your wing and teach them whatever you can about living for Jesus. You will want to engage with them in an intentional, relational, and reproducible form of disciple-making.
In my opinion, discipleship should be no less than a weekly discipleship meeting one-on-one or in a small d-group. Often, though, it will require more relational time than that to get them fully established in their faith.
As Robby Gallaty says, “Discipleship is more than a weekly meeting, but never less.”
It is so crucial that you help them as much as possible those first weeks they come to Christ to help them set a firm foundation in their walk with Jesus!
A warning! Don’t extract the new believer from their existing relational network. It’s crucial to get them connected with your ministry and a local church but be careful not to monopolize all of their time.
Teach them how to communicate the change Jesus is making in their lives with their group of friends. Go with them to share their story with people in the group. From the start you can work together to share Christ with their friends in the group.
Do it with them but equip and encourage them to share Jesus with as many people as possible without you. You may be surprised by how God can use a brand new believer to lead others to Christ!
If possible, start a Discovery Bible study or a discipleship group using the new believer as the nucleus of the group. You can lead, but make sure to include them, and start training them to lead as soon as possible.
Show the new believer how to have a ministry from the moment they are saved. This increases the chances that they will make it habit for the rest of their lives.
Working with new believers is one of the messiest and most rewarding things you will ever do with your life! Don’t give up!
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Produce Leaders Who Can Take Over For You
“There is no success without a successor.” Peter Drucker
From the start pray that God will raise up laborers to work with you in the harvest and to take over leadership from you as soon as possible. (Matthew 9:36-38)
Everything you do should be designed to pass on to those you are reaching out to.
Make sure everything you do is as reproducible as possible. Lead as if you were going to move across the country next semester. Ask God to raise up a growing number of potential leaders as rapidly as possible.
A helpful process for training up leaders is found in the “MAWL” acrostic.
Make sure to exemplify the values and practices you are trying to reproduce with those you disciple.
Explain the what and why to those you are training along the way.
From the start you should make it clear that the goal is for you to help them with their ministry, not for them to help you with your ministry.
Encourage them to step out and lead in different ways and help them along the way, filling in any gaps and coaching them. You want them to gain confidence so your help is an important step.
As soon as possible move more into observation mode.
Simply watch them lead and don’t bail them out. Provide encouragement, feedback, and coaching later on.
The reproduction process is not complete until you let them truly lead on their own.
Leaders need to own their responsibility and will never truly do so until the buck stops with them.
Leaving doesn’t mean that you completely cut off contact or don’t provide coaching; it simply means you are now free to go pursue another personal ministry target!
Partner With Them As They Continue Leading
Leaders of new groups should feel equipped and empowered to continue reaching the target group, as well as be expected to raise up disciples and leaders to target other groups.
There should be regular coaching, training, and accountability for emerging leaders.
We provide this for students through our core team of student leaders and our personal disciple making relationships.
If God has done a work to reach new believers or start a group within an affinity group on campus it is essential for a staff member to be praying regularly for it and to provide personal coaching and help with the student leaders on the frontlines.
Pick A New Target To Reach
“Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’” Mark 1:38
During Jesus’s short public ministry He constantly moved from village to village proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, laying the foundation for the movement that would become the early church. This is how He trained the 12 apostles.
He wasn’t content to simply have large crowds listening to Him. He wanted there to be no place left without a gospel presence.
As collegiate ministry leaders our goal should be to fill the field, not a room with the gospel.
What areas of campus have no followers of Jesus seeking to share the gospel? Those are your “unreached” pockets of people.
Go to those people and see if God might lead you to people of peace and raise up a growing number of disciples.
God is working in students’ lives and preparing people who will be open to your message. It’s our job to go find them. I call it the “divine Easter egg hunt.”
Pray hard, trust God, and pursue as many lost pockets of people on campus as possible with courage and creativity.
The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. The problem is not with harvest. The problem is a lack of laborers. (Matthew 9:36-38)
Imagine what God will do with a growing number of laborers reaching out to more and more groups of people on your campus and beyond!
Don’t settle for anything less than a disciple making movement on your campus and to the nations!
Make sure to fill out the Personal Ministry Target Worksheet to make goals and strategies to reach your target area. This will be a helpful tool to use with students and staff to intentionally reproduce this process.
Which of the steps above do you need to focus on the most?
What questions about this process do you have?
When will you get started reaching your ministry target? Who will keep you accountable to do this?