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Orange 2011: Doug Fields – Student Ministry and Discipleship

One of the few breakouts I got to sit in on was Doug Field’s breakout on Student Ministry. Being a Kid’s Pastor for 13 years or so, I’m not as connected with all the inner-workings of Student Ministry. I was glad to sit in and take notes. You know what I leaned? Student Ministry and Kid’s Ministry isn’t all that much different. Seriously. Below the surface, there are so many more things that are similar as opposed to things that are different. So, here are some of my notes/thoughts.

  • Too often we get kids committed to programs and people, but when they move on to college, the programs and people are gone… just like their faith. We need to be intentional in helping them develop an independent faith that isn’t program or personality dependent.
  • Just because kids are showing up doesn’t mean they’re being discipled. Help kids learn to grow on their own.
  • Reproducible discipleship is relational-based. One person cannot disciple everyone.
  • Jesus discipled 12. He focused the most on 3. One of his disciples failed. There is a model here.
  • When you give your volunteers your title, you win and your kids win. Don’t hang on to what you think it is that you’re supposed to do. Give it away. Empower others.
  • Raise the value of your volunteers. When you’re encountered with issues and problems, you involve the leaders.
  • (This is my favorite. The same is true in Kidmin, but so few see this) The bait and switch… you get involved in student ministry because you love kids and want to impact their lives, but to really be effective, you spend more time with leaders and parents. (So True)
  • Failure, doubt and pain paves the way to spiritual growth. Let these opportunities kick open the doors for spiritual growth. Crave these opportunities. Look for these opportunities in the kids you lead. Our job is not to make kid’s lives easier, but to capitalize on the opportunities when they can grow in faith.
  • Students can reproduce themselves. How do I use juniors and seniors to lead… when they normally begin to fade.
  • Kids don’t remember your messages, they remember you. We have to be transparent with our personal journey. The kids we lead need to know that we’re still growing and that we don’t have it all together yet. Teenagers need to hear and know about where we’ve struggled and failed. When we do this, we give them hope.
  • Tender in our response
  • Motivate and maintain a climate of spiritual growth. Create a culture where parents and kids know that spiritual growth is important.  Be repetitive.
  • Go Small. Pastors love big… families love small. Kids don’t grow in crowd meetings, they grow in small groups.
  • Create and distribute spiritual growth resources. Don’t just give a man a fish, show him how to fish. Don’t just teach them how to fish. Give them the resources. One minute Bible.. best thing ever!
  • If kids aren’t asking you questions about the Bible, they aren’t reading their Bible. Have them read it while on the toilet. (That sounds weird as I write this here… but it wasn’t so weird when Doug said it)
  • If you want kids to journal. Give them a journal. If you want kids to memorize scripture, give them memory cards.
  • Help teenagers discover their unique gifting/SHAPE
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Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker.