So I am super pumped about our middle school students. I work with a great staff and a great team of leaders. As we are gearing up for this year we aren’t forsaking small groups but we’re really striving to create concrete disciples. We aren’t forsaking a programming model (middle schoolers need programs…seriously. Organic middle school ministry is tough.) but we are emphasizing creating concrete disciples. And it has been cool as I have begun making the call out to students to follow me as I follow Jesus – they are digging it. Including those who I almost didn’t add to my list because I assumed they wouldn’t really want to step up to the plate.
I have 12 guys I am going to wholly invest in outside our programmed moments, and in turn they will be challenged to pick 3 of their peers “who they are with and who they are bringing with them.” Making my list was easy at first, but then I moved from those who I had lots of fun memories at camps and retreats and programs to those who I wanted to have good memories with and I knew had the potential to be concrete disciples. I learned and am learning things in this process of middle school disciple-making – what I call concrete disciples.
#1 The student who hasn’t been to anything but Sunday mornings has just as much potential as the student who attends everything
One of my guys has never been to camp. He hasn’t been to a retreat – and he doesn’t make many Friday gatherings either. But sitting down and talking with him, letting him know the potential I see in him striving to follow Jesus and the impact he has on his friends, I saw a spark in him. A few days later I got a text. Brummy, I’m in. I didn’t really expect him to be in – or to text back. But I realized he has potential in a way to reach students I can never reach. The students who will always be at the party on the weekend or the tournament and never be able to come to camp or a gathering – he can reach them. And he is willing to reach them.
#2 My ministry is limited if I focus on the same type of students who all go to the same places
Jesus didn’t call all disciples from one location, one trade. Many were fisherman – Matthew was a tax collector, Simon was a zealot. Each had their own story and role among the disciples. Many of your students may be similar – a lot of mine attend the same middle school. But each also brings something specific to the table – their own sphere of influence. Their worlds will overlap, giving them opportunity to be on mission together, while also reaching into places other adults can never bring the hope of the gospel.
As you select your 12 or your 6 or your 3 think outside the box. Have that conversation with the student you may least expect. Know them enough to understand where they spend their time, challenge yourself to disciple beyond the students who walk the same life on the same team at the same lunch table. Multiply as best you can in creating concrete followers of Jesus.