Thinking Steps And Not Programs

Creating a Discipleship Path for Teens

In the book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry Andy Stanley stresses that churches need to think steps and not programs.  Youth ministry needs to do the same.  It’s easy to get stuck on a program, and grow comfortable until frustration settles in.

Too often we get focused on looking at programs like they are the solution to discipleship. The reality is that they are only a tool.  To go from programs to steps you need to remember to:


Disciples aren’t always created overnight.  There needs to be a commitment to providing opportunities to plant seeds and invest in the individual.

Find leaders who know that fruit is produced over the long haul.  Encourage them to have patience and remind them they won’t always see results right away.


Discipleship is not about checking off boxes and completing a list of tasks.  It’s about getting to know the teenagers on an individual basis.  That means building your ratios of adults to teens.

The more adults you find the more teens you can invest in on a more personal basis.  You’ll learn about the obstacles that stand in the way.  You’ll build trust so that you can engage in the more difficult discussions.


Everything is constantly changing.  If you rely too heavily on programs you’ll lose relevancy and impact quickly.  To fight this you need to make sure you are constantly examining what you do by asking:

  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What are we asking people to do?
  • What’s going on in their lives?
  • What’s currently impacting the community?

Be aware of the changes around you.  Keep asking questions and look at how you can keep on moving.


The vision of your youth ministry is the catalyst to turning your ministry into a movement.  The vision reminds you of the “Why?” behind what you do.

Knowing your why will give your leaders inspiration.  It will constantly remind you to stay adaptable, to be relational and endure the journey.  Without a vision your ministry will perish.

When your ministry is focused on steps people will continue to move.  When people move goals are accomplished and teens go and grow deeper.  Remember you are never done.

Question:  How do you keep your ministry from growing stagnant?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.