As we have said before several times on this blog, our mission is to make disciples. We want to disciple students and we want students to disciple other students. This is biblical and it’s missional. What it isn’t though, is SAFE!
As John talked about in our last post, Are you Circling the Wagons or Charging the Hill?, many student ministries will develop a “defensive” mentality that keeps students safe and provides an environment for the “good” kids. One of the issues with this approach is that the ministry cannot be missional! And because the ministry isn’t missional it will be difficult to make disciples. In fact, it will create just the opposite. It will have an entirely inward focus. It might be disguised as disciple-making and even missional, but if you peel back the layers, the core of it will most likely be inward focused and safe. And the main issue with this safe approach is that it is not biblical. What is biblical is, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”
Safety and mission are not a both/and. They are an either/or.
In the Great Commission (quoted above), Jesus tells the disciples to “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands…” In John 13:34-35, Jesus’ says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
We help and encourage our students to be disciple makers. We want them to include their friends and those around them in their journey – both at GoCo and outside of the GoCo context. To be intentional in conversations with them, to pray for them, to be there for them, to serve them, to do life with them, and to love them as Christ loves them. The methods on how we do this and our approach will be talked about in a later post.
The Messiness of Disciple-Making
Making disciples and pouring into the broken and the lost is messy. When Jesus says, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other,” he wasn’t saying, “Love each other, but only when it’s easy. And if that person drinks, or parties, or is having sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend, then stop loving them.” No! There’s something directly connected to making disciples, teaching them the commands of loving each other, and the mess that comes with that. So, we fully accept the broken students that come on mission into our GoCos and we fully encourage our students to be intentional in how they approach discipling their friends that aren’t coming to our GoCos. When we send our students on mission to disciple the broken, we expect the broken to come to us. It’s never the safe approach. But it’s the approach that changes lives and creates a discipling culture.
Now, we are still early on in all of this and we still have a long ways to go, as well as many things to learn. But the stories that we get to be a part of, the fruit we are beginning to see, and the students that are being changed, are all speaking testimonies of the power of what happens when we let the Spirit work through us to be intentional in our relationships with those around us, instead of playing it safe. When we equip and encourage students to do the same and live out the Great Commission and Jesus’ commands, then a whole generation begins to change!