College Ministry can be a very attractive context to try the next best method of evangelism or newest strategy of disciple-making. We are discipling, training, and equipping students to live on the front edge of culture. It’s tempting to try to be on the cutting edge of disciplemaking.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, as long as we don’t forget that what God has given us in His Word is sufficient to guide us in all good work. Some elements of disciple-making never change (and shouldn’t change). Whatever methods or strategies we try, we must always remember to keep going back to the three essential pillars of discipleship: Prayer, The Word, and Relationships."Whatever methods or strategies we try, we must always remember to keep going back to the three essential pillars of discipleship: Prayer, The Word, and Relationships." -@ReeseHammond #collegiatedisciplemaker Back to the Basics: 3… Click To Tweet
Discipleship Pillar #1: Prayer
It may feel like we don’t have the time to pray in our busy schedules. But if we desire to make holistic and mature disciples of college students, we must be exemplary in prayer. I say exemplary because it is our role and duty to exemplify what we want to see in our students. What we should want to see is lives submitted to and dependent on the saving grace and power of God in all things. Prayer is essential to that!
As Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1 to imitate him as he imitates Christ, we must also be of the same mind. We must be the examples for our students in prayer, both in our personal walk and in our ministry.
One way I’ve implemented this in our ministry is by spending 15-20 minutes in intentional prayer before each student leader meeting. Because our leaders are the spear’s edge of our ministry, developing this habit of the primacy of prayer helps us become the example of the prayer-dependent people that we need to be.
Discipleship Pillar #2: The Word
It may seem like an obvious reality that we need the Bible to direct our lives and ministry, but I for one can often slip out of that reality in a functional way. I can assume we’re in the Word because of our Thursday Worship meetings, and I can assume that my students are in the Word consistently throughout the week. However, assuming does not bode well for making disciples.
We must be vigilant to over-communicate with our students their need for constant nourishment from God’s Word. We, ourselves, must discipline ourselves for godliness as Paul says, and make the time to put the time into reading His Word. Without consistency in His Word, we lose the consistent means through which Jesus sanctifies us (John 17:17) and our students.
In order to make sure we do not lose this battle to be in the Word, I’ve established three specific discipleship processes to ensure that this is accomplished.
- First, we go through a study on the Scriptures for our discipleship groups. This makes sure that our D-groups are founded upon the Word from the beginning.
- Second, we always go through a text of Scripture during our student leader meetings as a devotional means to grow in the Word together as leaders.
- Third, I have an open Bible Study time for any students to come hang out with me at Starbucks on campus and go through any questions they might have about Scripture.
These are the most effective ways I’ve found to intentionally ensure that our students have time in the Word and time with me to help them understand it.
Discipleship Pillar #3: Relationships.
I believe that “doing life together” is probably the strongest aspect of many of our MBCollegiate college ministries across the state. It’s encouraging, stimulating, and truly fun. But I know that in my ministry, I have seasons when I diverge from the proper approach to relationships and relationship building with my students.
What I mean by this is that I can have a ministry-first focus in my relationships with my students instead of a people-first focus. I can be so focused on ministry needs and evangelizing the lost that I lose sight of those right in front of me that God has called me to disciple! This shouldn’t be so, but it’s an area of needed growth for me.
As college ministers, we must always remember to “shepherd the flock of God that is among (us)”, as Peter says in 1 Peter 5:2. Why do I say this? Because it can also be tempting for us to look past those God has put in front of us thinking that there are easier and more willing students around the corner. I am, thankfully, coming to recognize this more and more.
Our students need us in every aspect of life, not just ministry. They need relationship advice, tutoring, and a home-cooked meal. They need to learn how to change a tire, raise children, and have fun. They need prayer, the Word, and your time. Believe it or not, you need them in your life, too! We have the privilege of being in the lives of our students for the building up of their faith. Let’s not forget that, and let us always be reminded of the pillars that God has willed to accomplish this work: Prayer, the Word, and Relationship.