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Youth Ministry Hacks: 10 Simple Ways to Grow Your Group

Even More Youth Ministry Hacks

7. Embrace a “messy discipleship approach.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.Luke 10:17-20

Jesus’ primary discipleship strategy was messy. It was responsive and reactive. He would see a fig tree and curse it. The disciples would ask about it. He would respond with a spiritual truth. Sure, Jesus had plenty of times for his “Sermon on the Mount”-type curriculum series. But he taught primarily as they lived on mission together.

When Jesus’ disciples came back rejoicing after an outreach, Jesus calibrated their excitement over being able to cast out demons with a disclaimer. He basically reminded them to get way more excited about the “steak” of salvation (“rejoice that your names are written in heaven“) than the “sizzle” of miracles (“even the demons submit to us in your name....”)

When teenagers are living on mission, you’ll have more and more messy discipleship opportunities. They’ll be unscripted, Spirit-led and exponentially more impacting. These are the lessons that will stick the best.

8. Set a different standard for your student leaders.

A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, ‘If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:25-27

Getting on Team Jesusis free because he paid all the fees with his blood on the cross. But getting on the starting team (aka becoming a disciple) will cost you and your teenagers everything you have.

Don’t be legalistic about it. But make it a challenge for teenagers to be on the student leadership team. They should be in the Word regularly, praying consistently and setting the pace for evangelism and discipleship for other kids. They shouldn’t just be the ones who set up chairs and bring snacks to youth group. Instead, they should be the ones who fill the chairs and bring their friends to youth group.

9. Build a Gospel Advancing philosophy.

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.Philippians 1:12

I love the term Gospel Advancing far more than Gospel centered. Gospel centered just sounds like a bunch of people sitting around watching Matt Chandler videos. Subscribe to Chandler on your podcast (he’s great!). But then get out and actually advance the Gospel.

We are to proclaim the Gospel, not just discuss, exegete and analyze it. For a deeper dive into how to build a Gospel Advancing ministry, mindset and model, go here.

10. Prepare for war.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12

Here’s a warning. If you start doing the first 9 youth ministry hacks (actually, some may be a little more intense than hacks), Satan will come gunning for you. So get empowered by his Spirit and put on your armor every day. This is not a joke. This is war.

In the words of my buddy Dave Gibson, be “Prayed up. Armor on. Battle ready.”

If you want your teenagers to grow, then you’ve got to get them to go…and make disciples. Start by applying these helpful youth ministry hacks.

This article about 10 youth ministry hacks originally appeared here.