A Connected Process: Helping Parts Understand the… | UMC YoungPeople
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July 2017

A Connected Process: Helping Parts Understand the System

By Chris Wilterdink

By Chris Wilterdink

A significant part of #SeeAllThePeople from Discipleship Ministries involves the development of an intentional discipleship system within a local church. Sometimes, big words like that, especially when combined, can seem scary! So let’s break them down:

Intentional – We’re doing something on purpose.
Discipleship – Living a life based on the teachings and actions of Jesus.
System – A set of connected things (people and actions).

So, an intentional discipleship system is simply people connected by their actions, practicing their faith with purpose. Discipleship systems can look very different within different congregations. Recognizing that there is no “one size fits all” system can feel very freeing for church leaders! A system is made up of many connected parts, and sometimes those parts don’t understand what the whole system is doing. This feels especially true in youth ministry. Do youth know why they do what they do in the church? In the community? Do youth know why the church does what it does?

Over the past year, I found several blog posts I wrote that involve the idea of understanding process. Helping youth understand who they are as a Child of God and who they are as a connected part of your church’s discipleship system is one of your most important roles as a youth leader! Read over the three posts in the side bar to the right, and spend some time reflecting on these questions by yourself or with a friend in ministry:

  • Does the discipleship system at your church have an “end point”? If not, at what point does a growing disciple change from one who gets their cup filled into one who helps fill the cups of others?
  • How do you recognize the fruit the young disciples in your congregation bear?
  • How are young people moved to action in your church’s system or process of discipleship?
  • When introducing new parts (people or activities) into a discipleship system, how do you build trust and prepare the system for something new?
  • Do any common goals, in youth ministry and the church as a whole, move people to act within the discipleship system of your congregation?
  • Does your congregation practice “Holy Conferencing” as John Wesley would have defined it?
  • How does the culture of your youth ministry aid or detract from the discipleship system of your congregation?
  • Which of the 10 suggestions for engaging youth culture does your ministry already do well? Which of the suggestions could your ministry do more effectively?
Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.