It breaks my heart when I learn about a former student that has walked away from the church. Questions of, “How did this happen?” and “What could I have done better?” race through my mind. It’s a fear many churches and youth ministers face. No one wants to see teens Graduate Their Faith when they Graduate High School.
While there is no magic bullet you can fight the trend by creating a system that grows disciples. That system begins with:
SITTING IN PRAYER
God’s got a plan for your church. To understand what a disciple in your community is going to look like you need to ask Him. Spend time with your coworkers and volunteers praying over what a disciple looks like in your parish.
IDENTIFYING YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Who are you trying to reach? When you answer this question you give yourself a starting point. You’ll know the obstacles and limitations that are preventing people from growing.
NARROWING THE LIST
While there are thousands of disciplines and habits a disciple can possess. You need to narrow down the list to about 5-7. They should stem from scripture, your church’s vision and mission.
Our church has identified 5 that we call steps. We want our disciples to:
- SERVE in a ministry or mission.
- TITH through sacrificial giving.
- ENGAGE in small groups.
- PRACTICE prayer and sacramental life.
- SHARE their faith through a strategy we call Invest and Invite
What you choose should be a reflection of your church.
CREATING PATHS AND RESOURCES
Your programs, ministries and events should be conduits to producing disciples. Growing disciples is more than just teaching people, it’s giving them the opportunity to behave like one. Build a strategy that focuses on the vision.
COMMUNICATING, COMMUNICATING AND COMMUNICATING
Everyone in your church needs to know what a disciple looks like. Preach it at Mass, in your programs and share it with new members. Have kids and teenagers learn it at a young age, so they know what to shoot for as they get older. Your disciplines are an extension of your vision, you cannot over communicate it.
[/reminder] What does a disciple of Christ look like in your church? [/reminder]