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Digital Discipleship

The digital age has brought about new ways of communicating which has embedded itself in every part of our lives. But are their limits of this modality of communication for Christians that we should limit it or are their untapped ways of evangelizing, discipling, and worshiping together? I have had some deep conversations and read great blog articles about digital evangelism and love the idea of effectively sharing the Gospel online. That being said I have not read much on the idea of digital discipleship and how to do this well. Some items may be implied (reading plans on YouVersion, G+ communities, and networking well online) but there is nothing out there on how to do digital discipleship well.

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Church-Stats-Infographic-thumb

[Infographic] Internet Usage for Religious Purposes

Churches recently seem to be really engaging with the online community of people, whether it is through their website, social media, or other mediums. They may be late to the party, but this is better than nothing. A new study on the religiousity of people online is something that people need to look into as it will impact their online, social media, and blogging strategies to target the best audiences they can reach.

Below is an infographic of the detailed data, but we have pulled out the highlights of the content below:

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Terrace Crawford Youth Worker Coaching Network

Interview With Terrace Crawford

Yesterday, we were given the opportunity to interview Terrace Crawford, unfortunately due to Internet outaegs, we were not able to share that with you over Google+ Hangout. But below is an interview with him about new opportunities with hi coaching network.

I wanted to say this up front before the interview. I want to highly endorse both Terrace as well as the concept of joining a coaching network. We need to be life-long learners and there is no better youth worker alive to learn from than him. His wisdom is always practical and constructive. If you have not considered joining, do so!

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Over the past three weeks, I have shared a how-to for “Writing A WordPress Plugin” series with readers who are curious on who to approach creating something for their website. While it is fun being creative and using both sides of my brain for this task, the real project served a much different purpose. The past two months, I have met up with a student from my youth group, teaching him how to program this WordPress plugin.

The past year has been hard for him. He has had to make some decisions that were contrary to what his mother wanted him to make and he stood up for what he believed was right. Because of this, he has lived on his own and struggling through school. So I kicked up a relationship with and found out that he wants to go get a degree in programming to make video games. My undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering has since come in handy.

While he is probably loving the new skills that I am teaching him, in the back of my mind are the questions that I want to ask:

  • How is school going?
  • Have you talked to your mom lately?
  • What’s going on this weekend?
  • Anything tough going on right now?
  • Need to vent about anything?
  • Are you getting enough sleep and eating three square meals?
  • How are you doing to get into that college?

So, I hope that these skills get him into college or get him a job on campus or simply get him a free meal at McDonald’s while I teach him a bit about making a WordPress. There is no “spiritual” talk or have you read the Bible now. Instead, I am building the relationship with him, hearing his heart on some of the probing questions, and just hanging out with him.

So how do you approach relational discipleship?

As we reviewed Tuesday, the cookie cutter discipleship program did not work for us. We wanted to create an environment with the volunteer walking along the journey with the students to live life with them and support the students as they go deeper in their faith.

The Problem
Working in a military environment, students do not stay in one spot for more than three years, so deep conversations are sometimes hard to come by and authentic discipleship needs to be explicitly expressed to the students immediately. The volunteers are trained, but how do we set up the relationships with the students? Without the discipleships being authentic, there is no trust or going deep.

A Possible Solution
At the present time, the scope of the involvement for the disciples is to be just prepping and meeting with a single disciple. But we need to set up relationships before that first meeting. So:

  • The first four months of youth group, the disciples will be involved in events weekly. No discipleships with students and no defined responsibilities at youth group. For all we care, they could be great crowd control or they can lead all the games.
  • The second four months, we pair them up with students that want to be in a discipleship.

Yesterday, we posted the idea of rethinking discipleship and how Jesus saw it. Today, we wanted to share what led us to this decision and why cookie-cutter discipleship can cause youth ministries to fail to go deep.

We assumed students would relate. Youth ministry is running well at USAFA Club Beyond. We are impacting a lost group of military teens and sharing life with everyone. The problem came when we added new volunteers to specifically do discipleship with teens that wanted to go deep but who had never interacted with students. The concept of discipleship itself is not wrong so there is nothing to change with that. It is all about the delivery. We need to foster relationships with these volunteers before the students even know they want to be in a discipleship.

Getting rid of the cookie-cutter volunteer model. In many circles, setting up a discipleship looks the same way. The equation:

Find a willing volunteer + training + willing student + going deeper + living life together= discipleship

Four-fifths of that is beautiful. The part of the equation we are rethinking is the living life together. We do not want anything to seem fake, artificial or forced. Unfortunately for volunteers and leaders, it means a longer and deeper commitment on their part.

Tomorrow I will share with you our first draft of the plan and would love to get your comments.

Rethinking Discipleship

Jeremy Smith —  April 26, 2011 — 2 Comments

A couple of weeks ago USAFA Club Beyond had our last monthly volunteer training for the school year and we processed the year. One thing that came out is that the “cookie cutter” model of discipleship will not work at our youth group. So this week we will take a look at how we can reform discipleship to fit our mold.

The first step we took was to look at how Jesus did discipleship. These are a few of the passages we pulled out.

  • Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life- he cannot be my disciple”
  • Luke 14:27 “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
  • Luke 14:33 “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
  • John 8:31 “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples”
  • John 13:34-35 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
  • John 15:8 “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

What other Scripture do you hold on to for your discipleship program?