In 1963 Robert Coleman wrote the book, “The Master Plan of Evangelism” (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing), with several updates since then. Central to the book is the concept that we should not only learn from the teaching of Jesus but also His example of making disciples. By studying what Jesus did, we can absorb numerous lessons on disciple-making.
We see that Jesus reached out to the masses but grew a small pool of candidates. He looked for those willing to learn, giving little regard to social status. Followers needed to accept the cost: to die to self and place God above all other priorities.
Jesus demonstrated a variety of teaching strategies. He showed a willingness to give Himself away. Disciples were to learn through modeling, not just words. Jesus would often hide the truth to the masses, only revealing it to those who were willing to listen and learn. He taught the concept, that to obey is to learn, and He would constantly monitor their progress. The class was always in session, and His students were often sent off on work assignments, to gain hands-on learning.
By His example, Jesus demonstrated intensive prayer and the authoritative use of Scripture. He taught naturally, using common experiences of everyday life as examples. But a key element not to be overlooked is that His teaching was Spirit-empowered.
Many churches today are putting many, if not most, of these approaches into practice, but they are lacking one key element: time. It took Jesus three and one-half years 24/7 to complete His course on discipleship. And if it took Jesus that long, why should we expect us to take any less time? That is the great hurdle that most churches have not been able to overcome.
There was a time when most families were focused on God and their lives were centered around the church. Those days are gone. Children simply are not being exposed to the number of discipleship experiences necessary to make them into disciples. Often God is little or no part of their lives.
A Rock Solid Teen Center can be a means of restoring some of that God-focused time. Centers that meet after school, five days a week, can play a key role in turning the tide, introducing Christ through written and spoken word, one-on-one sharing, Christian videos, and hands-on projects. Special events, such as camps and concerts, or after-hours Bible studies, can provide the next steps toward discipleship. And repeated invitations to church can result in breakthrough experiences. It’s not easy. Making disciples is a lot of work. And as we learn from Jesus’ example, it takes a LOT of time. And a Rock Solid Teen Center can provide some of the key time necessary to make a difference.