The #1 thing God has been convicting me of in the last year concerning my ministry is the lack of discipleship. So for about the past 12 months I have been asking tons of people questions, reading articles, looking through books, studying the Word, praying, and thinking through the best and most biblical way to disciple teens. In the process, I have learned so much about what it means to disciple. It’s not a clipboard with a list of questions, but an on-going conversation. It’s not just accountability, but it’s deepening in the gospel. It’s not a Sunday night class, but it’s doing life together. It’s not just a weekly meeting for coffee, but it’s a daily invitation into each other’s lives.
I feel like I’ve learned so much, but I have even more questions when it comes to discipling teens. I want to keep this article brief and focused on understanding conversations and questions in gospel-centered discipleship. I think the big question that most youth pastors are begging to be answered is…what do we talk about on a weekly basis during intentional discipleship discussions with teens? I’ve become increasingly convicted and convinced that our discipling conversations must revolve specifically around the gospel of Jesus! So here is the gospel-centered discipleship discussion flow and questions I’m currently thinking through…
1. Jesus’ obedience: Our identity and acceptance.
Because of Jesus’ sinless and perfect obedience to His Father by fulfilling all the law, the Father was fully pleased with His performance. When we are saved, we are united with Jesus. Therefore, we share in Jesus’ perfect identity, full satisfaction from the Father, and absolute acceptance. Teenagers need to be constantly reminded of their identity and God’s satisfaction and acceptance for them. Here are some questions I like to ask when it comes to this: How are you finding your true identity in Jesus? Do you believe that God is fully satisfied with you through Jesus? How do you live differently knowing that you have God’s full approval of acceptance? Have you been trying to find your identity in anything or anyone else over the past week? Have you been seeking anyone else’s satisfaction or acceptance for you more so than enjoying God’s? These questions are huge to start off with because they are the reminder off the bat that we are working from God’s acceptance and not for it!
2. Jesus’ death: Our forgiveness and repentance.
Jesus not only took on our sin, but He became our sin. He became our curse. His sacrificial, substitutional death bought our full forgiveness of sin from the Father! Jesus’ death for sin is our greatest motivation to repent of our sin and kill it. Here are some questions from an understanding of Jesus’ death. What victories over sin have you experienced this week? What temptations have you resisted? How has God reminded you of Jesus’ death and His wrath against sin to help you hate sin more? What sins has God forgiven you of, but you don’t feel forgiven? In what areas this week have you had to practice repentance? In what ways has temptation gotten the best of you? What did you need to repent of this week that you didn’t? In what ways did you fail? If you were Satan, what temptations would you be throwing your way?
3. Jesus’ resurrection: Our faith and obedience. Ephesians 1:15-23 is an amazing passage talking about the power of Jesus’ resurrection being in our lives! The Apostle Paul says over and over again that the resurrection is essential to the gospel, and to the Christian’s power to live their life for Jesus. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can live for Him because He’s living! Here are some questions to ask teens in discipleship discussions from Jesus’ resurrection. How did your life look different this week because Jesus has risen from the dead? In what ways have you thought about His resurrection? What have been your victories this week when it comes to obedience? Tell me an example this week of you making the right decision by choosing to obey. How have you been growing in your faith (knowledge) this week of Jesus and His truths? In what ways this past week did you not obey when you should have? Did you find yourself obeying more out of love and enjoyment this week, or more so out of fear and legalism? What did God teach you most from His Word this week?
4. Jesus’ Lordship: Our trust and submission. Paul tells us that we must confess and call on Jesus as Lord to be saved. Salvation is simply a switch from the lordship of Satan to the Lordship of Jesus. Teen Christians need to be reminded each week of the Lordship of Jesus, and our call to trust and submit to Him. Here are some questions to ask in the midst of discipling a teenager. In what ways this week has your life acknowledged Jesus as your Lord? How did your trust in Jesus grow this week? In what ways did you have to trust Jesus this week over your own wisdom or ways? What was the hardest part about trusting Jesus this week? When did you have to submit yourself to Jesus’ Word this week? What are some big decisions coming up that you’ll need to follow Jesus’ leadership in? If you were one of Jesus’ disciples with Him back in the day, would your life be looked at as following Him this past week? This next week, what goals do you need to set in trusting and submitting to Jesus more?
Let me make one last reminder: I do not carry these questions around with me. I do not use a clipboard. I do not ask the same questions from week to week. But I do think through and talk through their life in the gospel from week to week. This is the gospel-grid that I think my own life through. I believe that God’s goal is for us to be transformed through the gospel to be like Jesus (Rom 8:29). So let’s start to shape our discipleship discussions around that!