Those final two words in the statement above are crucial -‘by accident’. It doesn’t happen by accident. Discipleship is hard work. Creating a discipling culture is very difficult. It takes time, it takes imitation, it takes prayer, it takes discipline, and the list goes on. As we build a discipling culture we must be intentional in all we do (while letting the grace of God make up for our weakness).
When you look at the Challenge/Invitation chart on our previous post we have found ourselves in all the quadrants at some point. When I first started in ministry, much of what I did ended up in the ‘Chaplaincy Quadrant’, where the invitation was high, but the challenge was lacking. I was just beginning to figure out how to challenge students and leaders (this is definitely one of the areas where God’s grace has entered into my life and ministry). However, once I became aware that challenge was probably a weak point of mine I decided to make drastic changes and probably erred a little too far in favor of challenge, winding up in the ‘Stressful Quadrant’. Because of this I definitely burned out a couple leaders and students along the way.
Going back to Mike Breen’s quote saying that a discipling culture doesn’t happen by accident: it takes serious intentionality to maintain high challenge and invitation on mission with students. It’s important to make sure that you are challenging students in their faith and in their mission, while simultaneously making sure that the very thing you are inviting them to is worth the cost of the challenge. We have not always done this well. When we have erred in the past, we have fallen into not being challenging enough and by default, have created a comfortable, inward focused community. Unfortunately, I think this is often a common default of many student ministries.
As we are learning and growing, here are some things that we have done that have helped us maintain the balance between challenge and invitation:
- Clear Mission/Vision – our student GoCos have not always had a clear mission/vision. However, this is integral to the community. If everyone knows what the mission/vision is then they have an idea of what they will be challenged in and they also know the very thing they are being invited into.
- Rhythm – setting the culture that each of our GoCos will maintain the discipling rhythm of Come, Thrive, GO has been extremely helpful in keeping the high challenge and invitation. It breaks the weekly GoCo gatherings up to prevent every week from being the exact same, which in turn prevents things from getting comfortable.
- Multipliable – Everyone: both students and leaders need to have ownership in the community. It needs to be structured in a way that anyone can share, lead, and contribute to the community. It’s important for you to get out of the way and let others have responsibility and ownership in the community. This empowers those within the community to eventually start a new GoCo if it needs to multiply or if they develop their own mission/vision out of it. It CAN’T be your show. If it centers on you then really what you invite people into is your own presence instead of Jesus’ presence within the community.
The discipling culture does not happen accidentally, so move forward with purpose and intentionality found in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, while living in God’s grace.