What does it take to be disciples of Jesus?
Simply put, a disciple of Jesus is someone who has a lifelong relationship with Jesus (Mark 3:14). This relationship includes three different realities: 1) the calling to have relationship with Jesus Himself (Mark 1:17; 2:14), 2) to let go of the past - sin, brokenness, regret - and follow God, and 3) the calling to build the kingdom of God (i.e. Galatians 5:22-23).
For discipleship to happen, every youth ministry needs three distinct things to build a healthy culture:
Relationships - if you want to build confident followers of Christ who are confident in your youth ministry/church and their relationship with Christ, you have to build disciples around relationships. We can see this through Jesus' ministry and all throughout the New Testament that discipleship flourished in relationship. In fact, I would suggest to you that the New Testament was written not for YouVersion (even though I love it) or for personal devotions (which is still important), but to be worked out in relationships... we NEED to build cultures of relationship.
Opportunities - the second thing we need to do to build healthy and confident disciples of Jesus is to allow opportunities for young people to serve in ministry. In Ephesians, we see that EVERYONE and ANYONE can be in ministry. We need structures and cultures for EVERY single person to serve and be the Church. Young people especially need to serve as it helps them solidify their identity in Christ (rather than in sexuality, individualism, personalization, secularism, humanism, etc.) and DISCOVER their calling. For us, we used SHAPE (feel free to contact me about this).
Intentionality - lastly, young people need a voice. They need to be influencing the Church as they are the church of today. This takes intentionality. If students experience meaningful and authentic relationships, have opportunities to work out their faith in practical ways and have a voice in an intentional way that influences the Church for TODAY, you will have confident young people in their faith and youth ministry. When that happens, a church, a community, a city and a nation can be changed.
This is what it takes to build healthy cultures for discipleship to thrive.