student ministry, youth ministry, discipleship, discipleship plan

A Spiritual Game Plan for Every Student

By Doug Franklin April 20, 2017

Individualization is everywhere. I was recently reading an article about a professional football team. They have a detailed plan for each player’s psychical and skill growth. They check the plan every month to see if the player is reaching his set goals. If the player is not making progress, a team of coaches jumps in to offer advice and mentoring so the athlete can reach his goals.

I also serve on the board of a private high school which has begun to implement an innovative style of learning called “learning zones.”  In “learning zones” teachers create zones in which students can learn at their own pace. These zones definitely require more work for the teacher—they have to create three to four different lesson plans. But all this hard work is paying off; we’re seeing that students learn more when we don’t assume that every student is at the same level.

“It’s obvious that our one-size-fits-all teaching style is not working.”

What about us in youth ministry? Could a custom spiritual development plan based on individual students’ spiritual needs work for us? It’s obvious that our one-size-fits-all teaching style is not working; we’re discipling students as if they’re in a 1950s classroom. We need innovation. Discipleship is training and is not unlike football practice or classroom learning. But I would hazard a guess that most of our ministries don’t look much like our freshmen-year world civilization class or a professional sports team training room.

When we use an intentional spiritual development strategy, we can partner with parents to create individual spiritual development plans for each of our students. And with youth workers, small group leaders, and parents focused on a single plan, we can work together to make it happen. Just imagine this: you throw out the name of a student in your adult volunteer meeting, and a volunteer immediately jumps up to update you on that student’s spiritual life. They’ve been tracking it because they’re following your plan!

Discipleship is a one-on-one activity. It can’t happen in large groups with a one-size-fits-all mentality. It’s time that we change our approach and create an individualized spiritual game plan for every student in our ministries.


About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More