This past weekend I was able to attend a Casting Crowns concert at Akron Baptist Temple in Akron, OH. I always enjoy going to see Casting Crowns because they are one of the few Christian band who have more of a worship-based concert rather than a performance-based concert. Something a lot of people don’t know about Casting Crowns is every band member is involved in student ministry. Mark Hall, the lead singer, is a full-time student pastor at their home church. The way they make this work is that they are at the church from Sunday to Wednesday night and the hit the road from Thursday to Saturday to do concerts. Because of his heart for student ministry and student pastors, they always have a time during their concerts where they invite all the student ministry workers to go to a room where Mark Hall shares with them resources and a word of encouragement.
With a growing number of students leaving the local church and turning their back on God after they graduate from our youth groups, we are all wondering how we can keep them involved in the church as well as consistent in their walk with God. This past weekend Mark Hall shared two things that he always saw in the students that stayed connected to the local church and continued to follow God after they graduated from his youth group.
They had a ministry. If we allow our students to just sit back and watch us do ministry, we will never really see them grow and we will rob them of God-given opportunities for ministry. Mark Hall said that the students who continued to follow God after graduation always had a ministry of their own while they were in the youth group. There are so many ways we can get our student involved in ministry, we just have to let them and encourage them to do it. Have students lead music, let them be greeters, let them set up and tear down equipment, let them decorate the youth room, let them even teach and preach! We are not successful in ministry until we can empower and allow the students to do ministry.
They were involved in one on one discipleship. With all the hype of activities and meetings, one on one discipleship can be easily left behind. If we want to see students grow and continue to follow God after graduation we must get them involved in one on one discipleship with an adult that is consistently following God. Mark Hall explained the way he does this in his ministry. He is currently discipling 21 guys and he meets with each of them for 30 minutes a week. In that 30 minutes they talk about life, read Scripture (they pick a short book of the Bible and walk through it verse by verse), and pray. He said by simply doing this for 3o minutes, students will gain an understanding of God’s Word as well as build a relationship with you that will help them grow in their own walk with the Lord. If we want to see students continue to follow God after graduation we must not only given them ministry opportunities, but also disciple them one on one.
I believe these two things are “must haves” for every student ministry. Without these two things your students will not grow spiritually and will probably not continue to follow God after they graduate your youth group. I know this because I was one of those students. If it was not for the opportunities for me to do ministry and having the discipleship, I would not be where I am today. I hope you take this advice from Mark Hall and implement it in your ministry or if you are already doing these two things already will be encouraged to keep going.