We’ve all been there before. Maybe it’s the worship night or the big event with the guest speaker. It could be the last night at camp or the one time you take a week out of a series to talk about Heaven and Hell. I’m talking about that one night where it seems like every kid wants to get saved (maybe for the third or fourth time). As youth workers, there’s nothing that gets us more pumped than being there or hearing about the moment when a student has accepted Jesus into their lives. It’s an invigorating moment where tears pour out as an expression of the joy and pain that we as youth workers feel when we think about all the middle-of-the-night text messages, lock-ins, retreats and “disciplinary conversations”. It’s a moment when we pause and thank God for the work He’s done in a student’s life and for allowing us to be a part of the process. But maybe we should consider pausing a little longer. Don’t get me wrong. Let’s not ignore the moment. We should celebrate with the heavenly hosts! But when the dust settles, and angels are cleaning up the streamers from their party, we should stop and ask God, “What’s next for this student?”
I’m sure this thought isn’t a groundbreaking one for many of you reading this, but it’s one I easily forget: When a student accepts Christ, they haven’t reached the finish line. It’s just the beginning. As I read through the Gospels and look at Jesus’ interactions with His disciples, I often pause in wonder at their willingness to drop their nets. I tend to commend them a lot more than Jesus did for this step of faith. Instead, Jesus tells them they will hear “well done” AFTER they produce fruit in their faith walk. It’s funny how much we applaud students for the work Christ has done. Again, this isn’t to say they shouldn’t be loved well and encouraged during this decision, but we should be there to help them realize they have just signed up for a lifelong commitment. I believe that in the heart of every student who accepts Christ, there is the part of them asking, “Well… what now?” That’s where we can partner even further with the Holy Spirit to guide students. So here are the 3 things we can remind students of as they begin their journey of discipleship:
Encourage them to read Scripture.
We follow best when we’re clear on the instructions. In order for students to be passionate followers of Jesus, they have to learn what He asks of them. Walk through this with them. Provide a place for them to dive into Scripture and ask as many questions as they want.
Teach them to pray.
We all wish we could be there for our students more, but thankfully, we have an omnipresent Father who loves them more than we ever could and is way better at discipling than we are.
Make sure they’re plugged into a community of STUDENTS who are also on the same journey.
This is straight out of Jesus’ playbook. Once His disciples were equipped, he gave them all responsibility to care for one another as He ascended to Heaven and empowered them with the power of the Holy Spirit. We should be doing the same.
– Ayren Nelson
- What are you and your ministry currently doing to walk alongside a student AFTER they have decided to follow Christ? Is it effective? What could you be doing better?
- Are you providing ways for students to express their faith outside of the four walls of your meeting space? (For example, are you creating service opportunities, equipping them to share their story with their peers, etc.)
- How are you walking alongside families of students who have recently decided to follow Christ?