We all know how the game ‘shotgun’ works… The general idea is that when multiple people are going to be riding in a car together, the first person to yell, “shotgun” gets the coveted prize of riding in the front passenger seat. There’s something nice about getting to ride shotgun (besides the extra leg room), isn’t there? You tend to feel fully a part of the car ride and the conversations that take place within the car ride. Because you are sitting up front there is a sense of importance and total inclusion for that ride.
With that in mind, when I say Shotgun Ministry, I am speaking about the inclusion of students in what you are doing. It sounds simple, but having students sit ‘shotgun’ with you is one of the best things you can do in the discipleship process from a relational standpoint. Throughout scriptures, we constantly see Jesus including disciples in what he was doing: eating, traveling, healing, etc. He allowed his disciples to ride shotgun, so to speak.
Here’s some ways for you to implement Shotgun Ministry:
- Don’t go anywhere alone. Always try to find ways to include students in your everyday life. Take students with you if you need to go grocery shopping. If you need to run to the bank, then pick up a student on the way. If you have to go anywhere, try to find a way to bring a student into the mix. This is a simple way to open up your life to students and for students to connect with you in a more personal level.
- Open your home. Have students over your home whenever you get the opportunity. Include them in your family. If you are watching a movie, include students in that. Have students help you make dinner and then eat with them. There’s something powerful that happens when you sit around a dinner table with people. They feel a part of your family. If you have a video game system then set up some time for students to come over and play video games. You would be amazed at the incredible conversations that you can have with students while playing video games. Whatever it is you are going to include students in at your home, know that there’s a sacred connection that occurs when your home is opened up. It’s a beautiful thing.
- Keep it in rhythm. For many of us, we have certain routines or rhythms throughout a week that we like to operate in. These rhythms can provide great opportunities to include students. For example, if you go for a walk on Saturday mornings in a park then that would be a great chance to include students in your walk. Or, if you enjoy going out to breakfast a certain morning of the week or out to lunch after church on Sundays, both of these are great avenues to include students. Basically, what I am saying is that you don’t always have to disrupt your schedule or family time to be with students. The opportunities are there every week. It’s just finding those areas where you can include students.
The shotgun approach to ministry changes the game. It opens your life up to students, which enhances the way you disciple. Discipleship should not be a separate part of your ministry. Discipleship is your ministry. Once you open your life up to students is when you will find yourself discipling them.
Now, there are a couple things to keep in mind with the shotgun ministry approach:
- Students will see your mess. It’s part of doing life together. Students will see you get angry or even argue with you spouse. It’s ok. Just because a student realizes that you aren’t perfect doesn’t mean your ministry is ruined. In fact, it has been my experience that when you allow students to see your mess they tend to draw closer to you. It helps them see, understand, and live in God’s grace even more – because you and I are living in it and need to live in it!
- Your game will need to be stepped up. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” These are serious words. And if we are to take discipling students seriously, then these words need to be taken with the utmost respect. Like I said above, students will see your mess when you open your life up to them. And that is great. BUT, if your life is not rooted in Christ and you are not going after His heart daily, then students will also be able to see that, as well. Discipleship makes it even more important for us to be going after God’s heart through the scripture and prayer. Not that we have to have it all together, but that we are seeking after Him daily.