Help Others Enjoy the Process | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
July 2021

Help Others Enjoy the Process

By Chris Wilterdink

I’ve written in the past about Intentional Discipleship Systems with Youth, and I really do believe in the lasting power of intentionally creating a system for youth to grow as disciples. The short, short version of an intentional discipleship system is this:

  • Families that you are helping shepherd in the life of the church deserve access to intentional opportunities that you help create, and sequence, to aid in those families’ discipleship.
  • An intentional discipleship system with young people should provide young people and their families with at least three different groups of opportunities:
  1. Chances to recognize spiritual maturity
  2. Chances to demonstrate the great commandment (showing love for God and neighbor)
  3. Chances to practice what is preached and taught

In that resource, I don’t think I addressed this question very thoroughly: “How should going through an intentional discipleship system feel to a young person?” An intentional discipleship system helps people form spiritual habits. Your role as a leader is, yes, to help create the system and opportunities for young people to form spiritual habits. It is also part of your role to be an excellent shepherd and to care for young people and their families while they grow in faith through the discipleship system in your church. You can help young people enjoy the process of becoming more and more faithful in their spiritual practices.

Consider the interaction of a magnifying glass and sunlight, where the curves in the glass can focus sunlight and actually create smoke or flame. That is true transformation. Likewise, your ability to help young people enjoy the process of discipleship can focus their individual discipline and will to take on new spiritual habits, burning away distractions to their transformation. We are all creatures of habit, so helping young people enjoy the process of creating new habits can make a significant difference in their lifelong process of discipleship.

What are some ways to help young people enjoy the process of discipleship?

  • As the leader, be intentional about celebrating and congratulating both individuals and groups as you see them put their faith into practice. Simple times to start this practice for yourself might be during milestone moments, like when a youth starts at a new school, receives a driver’s license, has a birthday, and so on.
  • Provide simple reminders, perhaps on printed cards or other items that young people can keep with them in their daily routines. A reminder card might say, “Is what I am doing today strengthening my faith?” or perhaps, “How did acting like Jesus today create positive change for me or for others?”
  • When you introduce new spiritual practices to youth, ask them to keep track of how they feel empowered because of the new practices.
  • As young people and their families experience change because of the spiritual practices they take on, create spaces where they can share their experiences. Some churches might even call these opportunities for testimony or witness. Encourage and support those willing to share about their ongoing transformations. These opportunities could be spoken in-person, written out in a church newsletter, or even developed into a quick video on social media.
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.