Harry Bryans: Disciple Making in the Family

God gave us family and church as bodies of people to belong to; to live life with, for support, comfort, protection and teaching. These are the main environments in which disciple making can and should take place.

Children may be in church activities for 1-5 hours each week and this has a huge opportunity to impact them. However this is only a few hours in their 168 hour week. In their home however, after you take away time for sleep, school and play, they can still have 20-40 hours of inter-relational everyday-life teaching opportunities. If we consider the family as the primary environment for disciple making then churches and youth ministries must work to equip parents and partner with them as they disciple their children.

The family has always been God’s privileged choice, as Deuteronomy 6 clearly indicates, as the best place for children and youth to be nurtured, discipled and mentored in their faith.

Deuteronomy 6: 7 commands families:

You shall teach them [the commands of the Lord] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when lie down and when you rise. (ESV)

This passage emphasises the day to day routines and ordinary-ness of the parent’s role in this disciple making process. The focus of this command is on the parents as role models and the parents as daily teachers who regularly speak of God. Sadly this key role is often delegated to the church family. Many parents let the best, natural disciple making moments slip by. This has led to an increased emphasis of responsibility placed on youth leaders.

As youth leaders we need to partner with parents! Here are 7 key questions you should be asking about how you can serve parents as disciple makers.

Parents are the largest role models in children’s lives. Christian parents have a huge weight of responsibility to; “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22: 6 (NKJV) Put simply, a parent’s most important task is to raise children who will be followers of Christ.


Resources and Tools for Parents

EYMN ‘Dreams Group’ considered the kinds of special family moments that they enjoyed as parents or children, they came up with a list of 31 simple activities which will help strengthen family bonds. Receive a free copy of this helpful calendar and links to other helpful resources here!


Jim Brown: Innovation

Disciple Making – Our Calling
It is always a privilege to spend time exploring disciple making youth ministry and even more so when the room has disciple makers from England to Russia, from Holland to Hungary; such was our opportunity in Barcelona.

As we spent time together I was struck by the following:

  1. The needs of young people across the continent are similar – I highlight 3.
    1. There is a thirst for deep relationship where life is shared – proximity is vital.
    2. There is a desire to impact – young people want to make a significant difference.
    3. There is a pursuit for personal growth shaped by substance and depth.


  1. Discipleship is no longer seen as a 10 week follow up programme launched when we become a follower of Jesus but rather a lifelong adventure of transformation beginning before becoming a disciple and continuing until He presents us faultless before the Father.


  1. We should avoid unnecessarily complicating the journey of discipleship. We need to get back to the vision, values and practices of Jesus. This will help us to embody His vision (not just talk about it), simplify our practice, and be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices for the generations which follow us.

Yes, it is always a privilege to explore our mission but an even greater blessing to now go and see His vision realised as we make disciples who will make disciples.

Developing Younger Leaders

Jesus focused much of His ministry on developing a generation of young disciple makers who had passion, energy and potential and gave them the vision and space to pass on to another generation. This no doubt contributed to the early Church being effective after Jesus’ ascension. Today we must continue to follow His example as we invest in growing younger leaders, giving them the opportunity to make a full contribution to the life of the Church in the 21st Century.

The Balancing Act

A key to unlock the growth and potential of younger leaders is to follow the example of Jesus and stay close to those we disciple but give them room to take on real responsibility. As an older leader it is essential to give younger leaders both direction and ownership; room to succeed but also to fail; removed enough to let them shape ministry but close enough to step in and pick up the pieces should that be required. Finding this balance is a key skill in a leader who is a developer of others. However, so often a leader’s development is stunted by over management; telling a leader what to do rather than envisioning them with the ‘why?’ and letting them own the specifics of the ‘how?’ Or, on the flip side, a leader’s development is also stunted if a younger leader is thrown into responsibility without enough accountability, support and direction.

Commitment but no Guarantee

As I speak to senior leaders who have been in ministry for 20+ years, many tell stories of disciple makers who they have seen developed and now equip others to be disciple makers. This process took years of finding ‘the balance’ through ups and downs as they stood with these younger disciples but also released them. But alongside celebrations there are stories of disappointment; younger leader’s whose potential was never realised, younger disciples who walked away from faith or who became proud and unteachable and consequently stumbled. Even within Jesus’ closest followers, we see that Judas didn’t develop to become a leader to take the Church on after Jesus’ departure (a bit of an understatement!) Perhaps this example is there to show us that even the perfect disciple maker didn’t have a 100% harvest.

Developing disciple makers who in turn have a vision to pass on to another generation is not guaranteed by our faithfulness, hard work and perseverance. Setbacks and disappointments will come our way. However, if we continue to follow the example of Jesus and invest in younger leaders, finding the balance between being with and sending (Mark 3:14), we will have much to celebrate in youth ministry in Europe in the years ahead.

Resources, Tools and Inspiration

Exodus has a flexible, interactive, 30 hour ‘Disciple Makers Academy’ training designed to develop young disciple makers across Europe. If you would be interested in running a Disciple Makers Academy in your context from September 2016 please contact davidg@exodusonline.org.uk

For further inspiration in developing younger leaders take a look at John Maxwell’s resources including free videos and podcast at: http://www.johnmaxwell.com