We recently experienced a meaningful week with 20+ Rockford youth at Youth for Christ Camp in Maryland. This memorable week was filled with shared experiences, outdoor challenges, exciting new friendships, and Christ-centered conversations. We praise God that 13 local teens placed their faith in Christ for the first time!
The group has now returned home, and a big question to ask is, "What happens next?" We as a staff have had focused conversation on "discipleship," knowing that Christ calls us to "make disciples" that become more like Him (Matthew 28:19).
We need to dig into discipleship relationships with these 13 kids, helping them understand the eternal implications of their decision, teaching them how to study and apply Scripture, and demonstrating a posture of love and grace in the relationship.
A tweet by a pastor recently reminded me of the importance of this,
"Today, churches have four-week discipleship tracks. But after three years, Jesus still had disciples utterly denying him & sneaking into back-room meetings to sell him for 30 pieces of silver. Pastors, be realistic. Saints, commit yourselves. Discipleship takes a *long* time."
Discipleship is a long process. Discipleship is messy. Discipleship is something we all need. Discipleship is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus.
The importance of this work cannot be overstated. Far too many "faith commitments" are followed by inaction, which can cause confusion and doubt.
After all, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) reveals how the "seed" lands on different soils. When our youth hear the gospel, we do not want to then create an environment where the good news could easily be snatched away (seed on the path), lost amidst trouble (seed along rocky ground), or choked by the concerns of life (seed among thorns).
On the other hand, the seed that falls on the good soil is described like this (Matthew 13:23), "But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it" (emphasis added).
Note the emphasis on understanding. To experience the fruits of the good soil, we need to create an environment where our youth can understand who they now are in Christ.
This happens through discipleship. Pray for these 13 teens to understand the gospel and become learners of Jesus. Pray this same thing for our team at YFC, as well as strength to engage in life-giving discipleship relationships with our youth.