My name is April and I love all things linear.
There, I said it. Thanks for being a safe place.
In my former life, I was a teacher and I loved having a linear plan. I knew what I would be teaching and when, also known as one of my favorite things: scope and sequence.
Then I recognized in the world of student ministry, we could (should) do the same. I dove into developing a scope and sequence for our Middle School Ministry. We want and need to have a plan to know where we are going. We need a vision because without vision, the people run aimlessly (Proverbs 29:18).
My love (see: obsession) of all things linear poured over into how I discipled students. I wanted an assembly line. I wanted a perfect plan. My finite brain tried to map out discipleship. Slowly I realized that discipleship isn’t an assembly line. It’s not linear. And Jesus modeled it for us.
Jesus was propelled forward by a vision: to teach young disciples about the Kingdom of God and who He was. He knew what to teach and when. He didn’t start by telling James and John “Come follow me. By the way, I’m going to die so let’s make the most of this.” He understood the season and stage the disciples individually were in and used those moments to teach what they needed to hear in that moment. Jesus found ways to teach in the midst of his everyday life.
While our linear approaches and strategies are vital to the vision we cast as ministry leaders, when it comes to one on one discipleship, we have to let linear go and let students grow.
Our role is not to produce assembly line disciples. Our role is to meet Middle School students where they are and walk with them as individuals.
What if we took everyday moments like Jesus did to teach our students about the Kingdom of God? What if as we discipled students, we understood that not everyone starts at the same place? What if we took into account that our ideals (read: my) of a linear discipleship process was never what God intended when He inspired Paul to write “follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)? What if we taught these three things in the midst of everyday life:
Identity: understanding one-degree deeper what God says about them matters the most.
Belonging: understanding one-degree deeper that disciples of Jesus were created to be connected to other disciples of Jesus.
Purpose: understanding one-degree deeper that disciples of Jesus were created to love people wherever they are so others can know the love of Jesus.
Our students are people, not products. Each has a story and our role is to know what to teach and when, understanding the individual journey, knowing each may be different but all journeys lead to Jesus.
– April J. Wahl
What would it look like in your context to use the everyday moments like Jesus did to teach about the Kingdom of God?
What would it look like for your volunteers?
How would you begin to implement every day, in-the-moment discipleship?