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Making Disciples, Not Dependents

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” – Matthew 28:18-20

It’s the Great Commission. Of course we know it. God has called youth pastors to make disciples. But is that what we are doing?

Over the past few years, I have noticed a trend. It never fails to happen; I will see a young leader get a promotion within the church and then immediately watch that young leader’s program die. Should the pastor have taken the promotion? Of course, if that is the will of God. But why does the ministry die so quickly? In fact, this is the pattern all across the country. You will see a young, energetic youth pastor come into a church to serve, the youth ministry will grow, only to have that pastor leave, and then the ministry will die again. Why is that? Simple: For the most part, youth pastors, have raised up dependents, not disciples.

We must never forget that our students’ capacity to achieve is directly determined by our ability to empower other leaders. Therefore, we, the pastors, must make sure to never place ourselves as the full anchors of the ministry we serve. No single pastor can give adequate pastoral care to more than about 100 people. This is why churches stay small. Some pastors never understand that for their ministry to grow, they must give the ministry away. A pastor must learn to empower other growing leaders. And those leaders must become the anchors of our ministry. We must never enable the students we serve to become solely dependent upon us. We are not called to make dependents; we are called to make disciples.

For my world when I was in student ministry, I made my college leaders and small group leaders the anchors of the ministry. The only thing that was consistent in the life of every young adult in our student ministry is the same leaders in their lives each and every week. So it can’t be about us – it must be about our leaders or else our ministries will never outlive us. Remember that in order for your students to grow, they must be a part of something growing. The same is true for your leaders. In order for them to grow, they must be under a growing pastor. Growing Christians grow Christians.

So what are you doing to grow and empower your leaders? Has your ministry outlived you in the past? Let’s raise up some empowered disciples. It’s simply what we are called to do!