In the ’90s, youth ministry was so focused on “effective outreach” that “effective spiritual growth” was often moved to the back burner. After about a decade, the church had to do triage with kids who’d been raised in the church but never discipled to own their faith. Now I’m often asked how to disciple a teenager.
Common questions I hear from youth workers and parents include:
- How can we equip teenagers to truly live out their faith in a world full of distractions?
- What’s the secret to helping kids own their faith by the time they move out on their own?
- How do you actually disciple teenagers today, connecting them with positive adult role models who mentor them on walking with Jesus?
In our book Ministry by Teenagers, my friend David R. Smith and I address the proverbial elephant in the room: the growing number of teens raised in the church who walk away from their faith during or after high school. This sad reality is plagued by conjecture about “what the real problem is.”
Rather than throwing stones, David and I offer tried-and-true advice for how to disciple a teenager. Goals include helping kids live out their faith in word and action and giving them opportunities to serve on their own as well as in a student leadership team.
How to Disciple a Teenager: Practical Aspects
But what does this actually look like? What are some specifics when it comes to how to disciple a teenager? We can use words like “disciple” and “mentor” all day long. But what does this look like with teenagers in the church today? What discipleship materials work well with today’s kids?
I think that’s what this blog reader was asking me:
I’ve been reading your book Ministry by Teenagers. I’m going to be modeling my student leadership team after those principles this school year. It’s been a tremendous help as I seek to give my SLT some structure, direction and purpose. I have a question, though. What kind of discipleship materials do you recommend for students and mentors?