Before we jump into discussing how to best disciple the young women in our churches, let’s make sure we define our terms. Discipleship is more than baking cookies together. To be a disciple is to be a learner, and one who follows in the teaching and footsteps of another. Discipleship- the making of disciples- happens as we train and equip others to know Christ and follow Him in a deeper way. It is not dependent on a program or structured ministry arrangement, but rather on the willingness to obey the call of Matthew 28:19. Thankfully, the only qualifications for discipleship are a growing relationship with the Lord, daily following the Savior, and a desire to teach others to do the same. Below are some helpful ways to cultivate discipleship relationships among the girls in your local church.[easy-tweet tweet=”Discipleship is so much more than just baking cookies together” user=”wordoflife” usehashtags=”no” hashtags=”#discipleship” url=”http://tiny.cc/gzu2ay”]
First things first: Follow the Leader
Want a crash course in disciple making 101? Go to the source. When Christ was on earth, He displayed for us His heartbeat for discipleship. His influence reached thousands, yet He spent the majority of His time with twelve. They were men of different backgrounds, skills, and personalities, and Jesus chose them, loved them, and taught them. He prioritized them in His ministry on earth, living life with them in the midst of miracles (Matthew 14:25), heartache (John 11:33), and leisure (Mark 6:31). He patiently served them, lovingly prayed for them, and took advantage of every possible teachable moment, often using terms and examples they would understand.
Imagine if the only interaction that Peter, James, or John had with Jesus was a weekly scheduled fishing appointment?
They were ordinary, simple fishermen. Most were uneducated, and each had little to offer apart from hearts that were willing to learn and follow. Chances are, your girls are more into Snapchat than fishing, and right now following Christ looks more like standing up for truth in their public school science class than casting out demons and feeding crowds, but the principle stands: Find the hearts that are willing, and take them with you as you follow the Savior.
Meet Them Where They Are
It’s important to take the time to really get to know the hearts of the girls you will be discipling. How long has she been a believer? Does she spend regular time in God’s Word? What Christian disciplines, if any, has she already established in her daily life? What truth, attribute of God, or passage of scripture would be beneficial for her to study at this stage of her life? Does she have anything specific she hopes to learn about or areas she wants to grow in? Does she like to read, cook, sing, or hike? Find something that she gets excited about and do it together- or, learn something new together!
Patience is key in discipleship. Set goals together, but be careful of placing unrealistic expectations on her. Challenge her to go deeper in her walk with the Lord, keeping in mind that He alone is the changer of hearts
Patience is key in discipleship. Set goals together, but be careful of placing unrealistic expectations on her. Challenge her to go deeper in her walk with the Lord, keeping in mind that He alone is the changer of hearts, and no two hearts grow at the same rate. Help her discover her strengths and encourage her to use them in ways that glorify the Lord. As you spend time together, you may also notice areas of her life that present opportunities for growth. It can be tempting to simply assign her a list of things to do and hope it will help, but take it a step further. Rather than simply telling her what to do, encourage her by jumping in alongside of her, bearing burdens and meeting needs as they arise. Growing and changing is a process that lasts a lifetime; don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
Have a Gospel Centered Approach
One of the biggest things you can do for your disciplee is to help open her eyes to the beauty of the gospel. As a young woman, she is bombarded each day with messages from media and peers about her identity and value. Help her connect the dots between the lies of the world and the truth of who God says she is in light of the gospel. By teaching her to view life through the lens of the gospel, you are teaching her to see in true light the weight of her sin, the depth of God’s love, and the significance of His grace. Let this be the foundation that shapes her identity in Christ and the motivation for a life lived in gratitude of what He has done.
Give Them Tools
It is no secret that infants and young children lack the ability to be self-sustaining. There was a point in each of our lives where we were completely dependent on someone else to meet our needs and lookout for our well being. When raising a child, we instill in them healthy habits and provide all the food they need in order to grow strong, and when the time comes, we teach them to feed themselves.
The same concept is true in discipleship. Young believers may need to be spoon-fed the foundations of Biblical truth, but as they grow and mature in their faith, they need to be equipped to feed themselves. Discipleship is so much more than imparting wisdom and knowledge to those younger in their faith, it’s teaching them to dig into God’s Word for themselves, asking hard questions and pursuing biblical answers. In her book “Women of the Word,” Jen Wilkin states, “I believe that a woman who loses interest in her Bible has not been equipped to love it as she should. The God of the bible is too lovely to abandon for lesser pursuits.” Give your girls homework. Ask thought provoking questions. Make them think. Hand over the spoon, and teach them to feed themselves.
I believe that a woman who loses interest in her Bible has not been equipped to love it as she should. The God of the bible is too lovely to abandon for lesser pursuits.
By doing this, you are equipping them to live outside the “bubble” of the local church and preparing them to know what they believe and why they believe it. When they face trials or are challenged about their beliefs, they have this fertile soil for personal ownership of faith to grow, going beyond rehearsed verses and empty phrases.
As they mature, encourage them to seek out other girls that they can invest in. Discipleship is a ministry of multiplication- of “reproducing reproducers”. 2 Timothy 2:2 charges us to invest in those who will be faithful to teach others, continuing the ministry that you have started.
No matter how good the intentions, how high the expectations, or how excited the participants, commitment is a necessary ingredient to any discipleship relationship. It can be tempting to place our girls on the back burner when life gets hectic, yet it is in these very seasons that the harvest is ripe with teachable, practical, real life lessons. How do you handle the daily stress of family life? Or of working full time and being involved in your church? Of being a new mother? Maybe you taught your disciplee the verse about loving the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. Now, go a step further and show her practically what it looks like to glorify the Lord in her relationships, worship, schoolwork, and hobbies. Let the competitors for your time enhance your ministry to the young lives observing yours, rather than take from it.
2 Thessalonians 2:8”…We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
Discipling your youth group girls is more than just baking cookies, it’s life-sharing. It is an opportunity to invest in what matters for eternity: the Word of God and the souls of man. Let your love for these girls be evident in your willingness to pursue and prioritize discipleship relationships. Love Jesus, and take them with you as you follow Him.