Guest Blog: Time to Get Serious

This is a guest blog from our Executive Director at LeaderTreks John Vandervelde. You can read his blog at http://johnvandervelde.squarespace.com/

Over the past few months the pace at LeaderTreks has picked up quite a bit (thus the lack of blog posts by me). New products, new trips, new staff, new initiatives…it’s all good and exciting… and took priority over my blog posting. But today… I’m back.

During the first week of May I went to Texas for 4 days to visit with several churches and partners we work with at LeaderTreks. I was in Dallas, Carrolton, Frisco, Cleburne, Austin, San Angelo, and Spring. It was a busy trip, but so rewarding. The purpose of my trip was just to listen to our people. I wanted to learn more about the day-to-day life of the youth pastors we work with. My goal was to learn what they are doing, what’s working, what’s not, what the struggles are, what the highlights are, and what their future goals may be.

I won’t share with you the details of my trip but I will tell you one common theme I heard, “it’s time to get serious about discipleship.” In youth ministry, and in churches as a whole, leaders are searching for a cure to the problems they see in their followers. And that basic problem is people in churches are not becoming disciples. Their faith is shallow, their lifestyle worldly, their Bible knowledge non-existent, and their evangelism temperature is cold. They are going through the motions, attending church but not radical about their faith. Churches see that the missional movement is big and growing and they want to be a part of it, but don’t know how. So much of their history and their structures are set up on a different system. Churches know the seeker sensitive or attractional models are not working to create disciples. But they have a 2,000 seat auditorium with a $100,000 sound system. What do they do? In youth ministry numbers are shrinking, kids are leaving the faith, families are in trouble, and kids are busier than ever. Sort of a dark and depressing picture isn’t it?

While I drove the roads of Texas, I began to think about how to solve this problem. It’s huge. I know the key is real discipleship. Discipleship like Jesus did it. Not another Bible Study. Not another cool event. Not just another missions trip. Not better small groups. Real discipleship is messy and hard. Discipleship means deep commitment. Discipleship means investing our lives deeply into new believers. It means walking with them, challenging them, empowering them, serving with them, developing them, rebuking them, running with them, and investing in them. It is a huge time commitment. Huge. And it’s not easy.

But what if we did it?

What if churches actually stopped focusing on all these marriage seminars, men’s retreats, golf outings, potlucks, and surface level small groups? What if they said we’re going to invest all our resources into developing disciples who will develop more disciples? We’re going to raise up mature men and women to invest in immature men and women (boys and girls even) for a significant amount of time. I’m not just talking about Wednesday night small groups. I’m not talking about just another Sunday night talk. I’m talking about life-on-life deep development. Serving together, evangelizing together, studying together, doing life together.

What if the church looked at its structures and programs and said we are spending too much time investing in programs that serve as a “hospital” or “country club” or “sin management therapy” for adults and said we aren’t going to do that for the emerging generation. We are going to get serious about discipleship of our young people.

What if?