A lot of youth discipleship curriculum that is available simply spoon feeds Bible study to your students. This is okay at times depending on the age and spiritual maturity level of your students. But at some time you have to raise the bar and begin to push students to feed themselves and take ownership of their faith. This can be done in several ways but we have taken what we believe to be a unique approach to this. In our study series, "What Is A Disciple?", students will take a scripture passage and steadily work through it. After they read the scripture they will be given as series of questions to answer. These questions are the ones they should be asking themselves anyways as they dissect a passage, so in essence they are learning how to study scripture. Then after the questions there is some commentary that helps them understand what the passage is saying to help fill in any gaps they might have in their understanding. Finally, each lesson ends with a call to action so they realize that the Christian life is something to live out, not just learn about. Between the style of study and coming together to study it in partners or groups, students can begin to take ownership of their faith and be pushed in ways they may never have been before spiritually. This way it is on them to grow and go out and make disciples and not just you as the student pastor.
In choosing a youth discipleship curriculum you want to make sure that it clearly explains the Gospel. This is something that many people do not consider since officially the discipleship process begins after someone comes to Christ. But the students whom you are attempting to disciple may not know this. But even if they do there are three major benefits to the Gospel being in your study. First of all, in case a student does not yet know Christ, you get the opportunity to share the Gospel with them and help them experience the life change that comes from believing and receiving the Gospel. Next, you will be able to help new believers more fully understand their new life in Christ so they can have a firm foundation in their faith and fewer doubts later on in life. Finally, a big part of discipleship is learning to go out and make more disciples. So by walking through the Gospel, students are able to be trained in how to go out and share the Gospel with others and help them also begin the discipleship process. So while this may not be something you normally consider, make sure the Gospel is included in some form in the discipleship curriculum that you choose.
The goal of implementing a youth discipleship curriculum into the discipleship process should always be multiplication, not just addition. Too many times as student pastors we are short sighted and think only about reaching the students we have or just adding one or two here or there. But God is bigger than that. He has moved in mightier ways than that throughout history and could now. So when you think about discipleship you should think about changing the lives of multiple students. Think about a small group being discipled and then each person goes out and reaches two more, then all those people go out and reach two more, and so on and so forth until entire campuses and communities are changed. It could happen. It needs to happen. And if you have the vision for this I believe it could happen in your community and the movement could begin with your students. If you only cast the vision for them of how they are going to be discipled and then take that same study and go out and disciple someone else.
In buying a youth discipleship curriculum you will consider your students and what their interests and needs are. This is always a good decision when it comes to curriculum because your students are your primary audience and who you are trying to reach with this curriculum purchase. But with discipleship curriculum you have to think a little bit differently. Because discipleship is about your students growing so that they can go out and reach others for Christ and disciple them. A great way for this to happen is for after your students study a curriculum they can then turn around and teach the same curriculum to someone else. So in this purchase you need to think beyond your group and consider other students. Obviously you do not know every student but you do need to think big picture and find a study that will work for as many students as possible, not just your group.
When it comes to choosing a youth discipleship curriculum I want you to consider digital options. Here is why. For practical purposes it usually much more convenient and affordable. But there are far greater reasons to consider this option that deal directly with your students. The first is that our students live in a digital world. Whether they are on their phones for have a tablet or E-reader, it seems like they always have a device handy. So why wouldn't we look for ways to equip them with resources that will both help them grow as disciples as well as disciple others through these device? Digital curriculum is a way to go about this. For one, as stated before, students always have their devices with them. Also, these curriculum options that are usually cheaper. This way you can get them to more students. The other benefit is that be it an app, PDF, or E-reader file, you can continually reproduce the study as your students reach more of their friends for Christ. So as you look into discipleship curriculum, I highly encourage you to consider a digital option so that you canmore effectively equip your students to minister in the 21st century.
Your decision on a youth discipleship curriculum should always be student driven. This has a double meaning. For one you need to choose a curriculum that fits your students needs and the culture and reality that they live in. This way you can make sure that their time spent in study is worthwhile and something they can apply in their lives. The other part of this is that your study should be something that your students can study on their own time as well as with a leader. This way not only are you students learning to feed themselves spiritually, they will also be prepared for the next step in discipleship. That next step is to go out and build disciples. And if your curriculum is designed correctly, a student will be able to turn around and disciple someone else just as they have been discipled.
The importance of youth discipleship curriculum can not be overstated. It is not so much that the curriculum itself is ultra important, but instead is the fact that discipleship is our greatest calling. With Jesus final words He commissioned all of His followers in the present and the future to go out and make disciples. Therefore, everything we do should work towards that goal and the majority of the investment we make with our time and resources should go towards this calling. This why it is important for you to consider whether or not your students are being discipled, because far too many students in this generation are not. And this fact, and other contributing factors have led to studies showing that less than 4% of this generation will follow Christ. We cannot let this trend continue. We need to invest in curriculum and anything else that will help our students become disciples and then in turn go out and make disciples themselves.