HOW TO STRATEGIZE YOUR DISCIPLESHIP
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
- The 4 spiritual habits that help kids and teenagers grow spiritually.
- How to strategize a year of discipleship for kids ministry.
- How to strategize a year of discipleship for youth ministry.
- PLUS: What’s included in Grow Curriculum and Strategy to help you disciple kids and teenagers well.
If you’re an adult (or maybe even a “professional” Christian) the idea of spiritual habits is probably pretty familiar to you. Spiritual disciplines, quiet time, devotions — whatever you call it, you’ve probably established at least a few rhythms in your life that help you grow spiritually. Maybe you…
start your day with a quiet time.
follow a Bible reading plan.
listen to worship music while you drive.
subscribe to sermon podcasts.
go to church, attend a small group, or serve somewhere.
Since you’re a grown-up, you’ve had a little time to figure out this whole “spiritual growth” thing. The kids and teenagers in your ministry, on the other hand, aren’t grown-ups, so they might need a little help from you to figure out how to grow spiritually.
This is where spiritual habits come in. Spiritual habits are the decisions, behaviors, and rhythms that help us grow spiritually over time. If you’re like most people, the first things that pop into your head when you hear “spiritual habits” are probably reading the Bible, praying, or going to church. Sure, reading, praying, and going to church are important spiritual habits. But they’re not the only spiritual habits that matter.
So what is the complete, final, definitive list of spiritual habits? Well, there isn’t one. Not officially. You can organize and categorize and define spiritual habits in a number of ways, but feel free to steal our list if you think it’s helpful. It’s a list of the four spiritual habits to help kids, teenagers, and adults grow spiritually.
1. SPEND TIME WITH GOD
This is an obvious one, right? It’s so obvious, in fact, that sometimes it’s the only spiritual habit we can name. After all, isn’t “growing spiritually” synonymous with “spending time with God”? Well, not exactly. Spending time with God is a big part of growing spiritually, but it’s not the whole picture. That’s why it’s just the first of four spiritual habits.
Spending time with God may not be the only spiritual habit that exists, but it’s still a pretty important one. After all, if kids and teenagers are ever going to make their faith their own, they’ve got to start spending time with God on their own. It means opening the Bible on their own, having conversations with God on their own, and discovering how they best connect with God through worship on their own.
2. SPEND TIME WITH OTHERS
Engaging in healthy community can, and should, be a spiritual habit we help our students develop. But “healthy community” doesn’t just mean hanging out with Christians. This spiritual habit is about growing in Christlike relationships with — well, everyone. Christians and non-Christians, too. Because, sometimes, it won’t be another church potluck or Bible study with our fellow Christians that will grow us the most. It might be a friendship, an investment, or a challenging conversation with a non-Christian that makes the biggest difference in our faith.
We see this most clearly in Jesus, of course. When He discipled His followers, He didn’t disciple them in one-on-one conversations in the privacy of their homes or the nearest Starbucks. He discipled them in real life, in the context of relationships that were real, and messy, and challenging, and imperfect. In Jesus’ ministry, it was often His disciples’ interactions with each other, or with people who didn’t follow Him, that prompted some of His most significant teaching opportunities.
3. SHARE YOUR STORY
Our students need to learn how to talk about God. But this spiritual habit is way bigger than just knowing how to share the story of your salvation – although that’s part of it. Sharing your story is the spiritual habit of making faith a regular, everyday, go-to topic of conversation in our lives.
It’s about discovering God in every aspect of your story — in your past, your present, and your future — in the good times, the bad times, and the in-between times — and then sharing what you’ve found with other people. Because when we talk about God and our place in God’s story, it helps us believe, helps us understand, and helps us take ownership of our own faith. That’s why sharing our stories is such an important part of growing spiritually.
4. USE YOUR GIFTS
Here’s the fourth and final spiritual habit. Students need to know that God made them unique, and special, and with really specific gifts, talents, passions, and resources — and then they need to use those gifts to love God, love others, and influence the world around them.
When we use our gifts, we acknowledge that the things we’ve been given weren’t given to us by chance. They were part of God’s design. And using those gifts can become a spiritual habit, because when kids and teenagers begin to discover who God made them to be, and then use their unique identity to make a difference in the world, to serve others, and to give back to the God who made them, they grow.
HOW DO I TURN THESE HABITS INTO AN ANNUAL STRATEGY?
When planning your year of ministry, we always recommend you begin by planning your discipleship strategy. That’s because we believe spiritual growth should be the lens through which we see everything else we do in our ministries. Here’s how we approach it…
- Divide the year into quarters.
- Assign one spiritual habit per quarter.
- Create one experience or activity each quarter that will help kids or students put that spiritual habit into practice.
If you’re using the Grow Annual Strategy to plan your year, here’s how that could look…
FALL | SPEND TIME WITH OTHERS
Every fall, we focus on the spiritual habit of spending time with others because it’s so important for kids and teenagers to build strong relationships and community at the beginning of the school year. These relationships will help them stay connected throughout the year and will help them feel safe enough to be honest and open during discussion times. To help kids and students practice this spiritual habit, you might…
- Create small group party kits to help leaders have fun with the kids or teenagers they lead.
- Distribute small group conversation starters to help groups have better conversations.
- Give a challenge for kids or students to initiate meaningful conversations outside of church, like at home, in their neighborhoods, or around the lunch table.
WINTER | USE YOUR GIFTS
Every winter, we focus on the spiritual habit of using your gifts because the holidays are a perfect opportunity for kids and teenagers to serve others in a meaningful way. To help kids and students practice this spiritual habit, you might…
- Create a fundraiser or service project to help kids or teenagers make a difference in someone’s life.
- Distribute gift assessments to help kids or teenagers figure out how God has made them and how they can use those gifts to make a difference.
- Give a challenge for kids or students to serve with their friends or families.
SPRING | SPEND TIME WITH GOD
Every spring, we focus on the spiritual habit of spending time with God because, after six months of building relationships and trust, you’ll likely be more successful when challenging kids and tenagers to go deeper in their relationships with God. To help kids and students practice this spiritual habit, you might…
- Create a worship event for kids, students, or families.
- Distribute devotionals either in print or on social media.
- Give a challenge for kids or students to start a new spiritual discipline.
SUMMER | SHARE YOUR STORY
Every summer, we focus on the spiritual habit of sharing your story because many churches are already thinking about mission experiences, as well as challenging kids and teenagers to make a difference in their schools and communities when the new school year begins. To help kids and students practice this spiritual habit, you might…
- Create a storytelling segment in your weekly program to give kids, students, or adult leaders a chance to share their stories of faith.
- Distribute conversation starters to help kids, students, or families start meaningful conversations about faith at home.
- Give a challenge for kids or students to share their stories of faith with someone outside of church, like at home, in their neighborhoods, or around the lunch table.
And hey, if you’re using Grow Curriculum, we’ve already done this work for you. For every quarter of every year, we provide an activity or experience that corresponds with that quarter’s discipleship focus, and includes everything you need to make it happen — supply lists (with handy links to purchase the supplies), instructions, graphics, handouts, and more!
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN GROW CURRICULUM
While every activity in our Discipleship Strategy is unique, we always provide you with the same core tools and resources to make each one happen. With each activity, we’ll include…
- Editable graphics in PSD format for each discipleship activity
- Title images in horizontal, vertical, and square formats, so you can use them easily on all print, online, and social media platforms
- Background images in horizontal, vertical, and square formats, so you can use them easily on all print, online, and social media platforms
- Activity guides for you, the ministry leader
- Editable handouts and instructions for your volunteers in PSD, PDF, and DOC formats
- Editable handouts and instructions for your students in PSD, PDF, and DOC formats
QUARTERLY SPIRITUAL GROWTH SURVEYS:
- Editable graphics in PSD format for each discipleship survey
- Additional images in horizontal, vertical, and square formats, so you can use them easily on all print, online, and social media platforms
- Instructions for you, the ministry leader
- Editable surveys for your students in PSD, PDF, and DOC formats