Strategy of CBSM: 3 Simple Steps


Our strategy for CBSM is three easy steps: Worship, Small Groups, and Ministry. This is a process of training students to be disciples of Jesus. First, they must learn to follow and worship Jesus through the preaching of His Word. Then, we want our students to connect with other Christians in our Small Group ministry on Sunday mornings. This allows our students to process and discuss what they learned on Wednesday night, their devotions they read during the week, and what God had been doing in their life that previous week as well. We believe fellowship, thinking, and conversations are a huge part of the Christian life. Lastly, we believe that each student should serve Jesus in their church with the spiritual gifts He gives them. This is our 3rd step called Ministry. We desire that each of our students are on an SMT (Student Ministry Team) to serve Jesus with other students to make our student ministry even more excellent. Through all of this, we want every single student to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, believe it for salvation, live for the rest of their life, and share it with others so that Jesus’ glory is spread from our lives.

Here are some words I wrote a while back on how we came to this style and set-up of ministry, “Check out what Storyline.Framework is all about.  It’s all about teaching students in youth ministry what the Scriptures are all about…Jesus Christ!  We believe that Jesus Christ (God’s Son) is the will of God for all of life (Ephesians 1:7-10), He is the glory of God for all time (Philippians 2:9-11), and He is the point of all the Bible (Luke 24:37, 44).

I remember sitting in my past office which used to be the church’s mini-library.  The tiny office (smaller than the copier room) had enough shelves for all of my books and then just enough space to spare for my desk and office chair.  As I was reclined with my feet resting on my desk and my head resting on my shelves…I was thinking about what I needed to be teaching these teenagers since I only had them for 6 years before they went off to college.  On Sunday mornings I had been teaching them studies on the parables, on prayer, etc.  On Wednesday nights, I had started a series called “Power Chapters.”  That was just taking a really powerful chapter from different books of the Bible…and taking about a month to preach through them.

During that time I was a student in seminary.  I was growing rapidly from everything I was learning in my systematic theology classes and biblical theology classes.  Then I began to think to myself…I’m growing from this, my friends are growing from this, so won’t my students grow from this?  I had looked through all the other curriculum and materials for student ministry.  They were so watered down biblically, they consistently missed the point of God in nearly every passage, and I just didn’t want my students graduating with that shallow knowledge of God and His Word.  I wanted them to have substanenence, depth, and meaningful understand of Christ’s glory.  So in the process of a couple of years, God led me to begin designing and writing these two mega-series: Storyline and Framework.”  Continue to read for a further explanation of our strategy on our storyline worship services, framework small groups, and student ministry serving teams.

Step 1. Worship: Connecting Teens to Jesus
storyline-newThe first step to CBSM is our WORSHIP service on Wednesday nights from 6:30 – 8:00pm. We carefully design our worship service every Wednesday night for each student to encounter and experience Christ in such a way to take them to the next level of following Him as His disciple. We know so many student ministries that put their focus into the one week of summer camp or another one-time event every year. We put all of our money, time, talent, and resources into every Wednesday night so that its like camp every week. We look for the funniest videos, think up the craziest games, offer the most excellent and intense worship, and seek to give the most challenging message from God’s Word possible. We believe that worshiping Jesus is the primary and highest calling in every Christian’s life…worship through music and worship through the Word. We design every worship service to introduce unbelieving teens to Jesus, challenge the lost teens to be saved in Jesus, and Christian teens to continue to repent of sin and follow Jesus. We seek to do this in every CBSM worship service through our Storyline and Framework series.

“Storyline” is what we preach on Wednesday nights to our students most of the time.  The name stands for the STORYLINE in all of Scripture of how God is bringing glory to His Son.  Instead of just doing different “Power Chapters,” I really believed God was calling me to teach my students the ENTIRE Bible and point it ALL to Christ in the 6 years they were a part of our student ministry.  So I learned there are 1,189 chapters in all the Bible (from what they say).  We preach on average 10 chapters at a time as we move our student through the Scriptures to preach Christ in all things. So we started with Genesis and we’re making our way to Revelation.  Each sermon averages about 10 chapeters.  Some sermons may be 1 chapter and some sermons may be 30 chapters.  It just depends how the chapters and books flow together.  But each sermon does stand alone as its own call to follow Christ.  Also each sermon stands in a mini-series as it fits into the context of its book.  Lastly, each sermon falls into the big picture of the Bible as it is one small episode in the storyline of God exalting His Son as the Lord of the Cosmos.

“Framework” is where we take the students through Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is extremely important for students to understand because it teaches the students how to think about every major doctrine and topic of Scripture (from understanding Jesus – the End Times). We teach Framework: Systematic Theology 3 – 4 months out of the year, and Storyline: Biblical Theology 8 – 9 months out of the year. Just like Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology also must be understood and connected in Jesus Christ alone. That’s how God intended it! Below is our 6 Year Plan which will show you our remaining 4 years on how we mix and match the Storyline and Framework series. Then we have an mp3 that is an explanation of “Why we do what we do every Wednesday night.” Lastly, I attached a video to give you an example of a Wednesday night “Framework” sermon on how the entire Bible points to Jesus. Jesus said so!

6 Year Plan v.2 (doc)

Why We Do What We Do Every Wednesday (mp3)

You can search all STORYLINE posts in the “Categories” section found in the blog’s left hand column.


This was the first sermon in our doctrine of Scripture series: “BEST BOOK EVER.” This will give you a much better understanding of how we mix and match our Storyline and Framework series while keeping Jesus as the focus of all that we do! This sermon is entitled “Best Book Ever: What’s it really all about?”

Step 2. Small Groups: Connecting Teens to Each Other
framework-newWe call our Sunday morning SMALL GROUP Ministry “FRAMEWORK” because we believe God has led us to design that time to help our students think, talk, and act from a biblical framework structure. Basically how we pull this off is: our students gather in our student ministry building at 9:15am for announcements and prayer. We then kick them out to their small group rooms. We have two small group leaders in every class. This is important. Our small group leaders are NOT teachers. They are leaders, disciplers, mentors, facilitators, etc. God has called me to teach on Wednesday nights, but these adults lead discussion. They discuss with the students what God has been doing in their lives the past week, what He has been teaching them, and what they got most out of Wednesday night’s message. We want our weekly ministry to be a integrative system that is all completely connected. So as I teach through all the Bible (Genesis – Revelation) and all systematic theology (Doctrine of Christ – Doctrine of the Last Things) on Wednesday nights, our Sunday mornings are designed to discuss, help our students process, and assist them in applying God’s Word to their life! So Wednesday nights is very closely tied to Sunday mornings. I teach the Word on Wednesdays, and the students discuss it on Sundays! Our small group leaders come every Sunday morning prepared to lead in a discussion of how every passage points us to Jesus Christ and how every passage applies to our lives. So there ya go, that is the gist of our Framework Small Group Ministry. (Below is how we used to do our Framework Sunday School Ministry, but we have been doing this new style for the last 2 years, and it has been the best!)

“Framework” is what I teach on Sunday mornings to my students.  It gets a little more complicated.  I’ll try to explain as clearly as I can.  Framework is the study of Systematic Theology.  From all the other curriculum I stuidied, I learned that every publisher, author, and youth pastor has their own systematic theology they are teaching.  Whatever they keep coming back to is the center of their theology (whether it be God’s glory or how to make good friends).  And everything they decide to teach around their central theme would indirectly teach their students a systematic theology of how to view all of life.  I fell into that trap myself.  And then I wondered why I was trying to reinvent the wheel.

For multiple centuries, churches have been teaching the 12-13 orthodox doctrines.  Why wouldn’t I want my students to learn anything other than that?  So in a 6 year plan, I’m taking my students through all of systematic theology and how its central theme is Jesus Christ.  We do this on a 2 month rotation.  For two months I teach the senior highers on a specific doctrine.  They sit in circles and discuss the doctrine that is taught.

Then after two months, they go back to their small group class rooms to read and discuss a smaller book which is an application of that doctrine (for example: Doctrine of Christ and “Living the Cross-Centered Life” by C. J. Mahaney).  While they are in their classrooms, I teach the middle schoolers the same doctrine for two months, then they go back to their classrooms for the book discussion while the senior highers come back to me for another 2 month doctrine study.  And WAH-LAH, you’ve got yourself a rotating, non-drowsy, life applicational, Christ glorifying way to teach your students the creme de le creme – Systematic Theology.

You can search through all the FRAMEWORK files in the “Categories” section on the right-hand column.

Free files for my fellow youth pastor friends…

Overview of Why We Teach Systematic Theology to Students (mp3)

Sunday School 6 Year Plan (very rough version – all thoughts included)

Sunday School 6 Year Plan (basic and clean version)

Step 3. Ministry: Connecting Teens to Serving
MINISTRY is the 3rd step for CBSM after Worship and Small Groups. I’ve noticed for years in my own ministry and in many others that ministry can be the biggest thing lacking in student ministry itself. 3 years ago, we started off having 4 ministry teams, and today we have 12 – 15. Before we had around 25 students on our ministry teams, and today we have around 75 ministering on their SMT (Student Ministry Team). Here is the list of our current list of SMT’s (Student Ministry Teams).
SMT Fall 2010 Breakdown (doc)

In order to get onto an SMT, all of our students have to go through a one lesson course on spiritual giftedness called “YOU GOT SKILLS”. This course teaches them why God gives us spiritual gifts, what spiritual gifts are, how we are to use our spiritual gifts, where we are supposed to use our spiritual gifts most, and who our spiritual gifts are ultimately for.
You Got Skills – Overview (mp3)

We believe that every Christian should go through this 3 step discipleship process of Worship, Small Groups, and Ministry Teams. Most all of our SMT’s meet on Sunday nights from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Some meet earlier and others meet on other days such as Wednesdays and Saturdays. We want each of our students to discover their God-given spiritual giftedness, and to use their spiritual giftedness primarily for Christ and in the church.

2 comments on “Strategy of CBSM: 3 Simple Steps

  1. Hi, there, Chip–I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful, illuminating blog you have. You’re doing an incredible work with Framework and Storyline (which I just discovered) and I appreciate your time and efforts and willingness to help out the rest of us in posting your labors. This is great stuff. Thanks so much,

    Lori, YM at North Bedford Baptist

    • Thanks so much, Lori! All glory to God, fo sho! Tell me a little more about the youth ministry at North Bedford Baptist. Is God doing big things there? What does “YM” mean?

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