A loving community growing followers of Christ by Brian Vaatstra
New Life Christian Church – A loving community growing followers of Christ
One-to-one at New Life
Our disciple-making programs at NLCC predated, but was greatly strengthened by The Vine Project which our leaders have implemented across the church. It is still very much a work in progress.
Our desire is to have everyone in a one-to-one discipling relationship, but we start with those who are willing, knowing that more people will be open to it when they see the transformation that meeting over the Word together brings.
We started at the top with leaders (pastor, ministry worker, elders) modelling this kind of ministry. We also provided some basic materials (Just for starters, Short Steps for Long Gains, Personal Follow-up, Becoming a Godly Man/Woman). Since the church leaders have modelled this by discipling all our key leaders over the past 6 years and having seen the huge benefit this has had in their own lives and faith, they are now passionate to see this in the lives of others.
We’ve sought to get one-to-one discipleship working in every ministry in the church. Music team leaders have started discipling those in the music team. Pastoral carers added one-to-one discipleship to their visiting and began meeting with those people more often, Life Groups are disciple-making teams, and our Youth Worker started meeting one-to-one with his youth leaders.
We ran a basic training course on one-to-one ministry for those interested (around 30 people), focused on:
- What one-to-one discipleship is, including the Biblical imperative in Matthew 28:18:20, and the Apostle Paul’s discipling ministry
- What we do when we meet together
- How to get started
We produced a one-to-one discipleship handbook called Read, Pray, Grow, which explained one-to-one discipleship and the steps of reading the Bible together, praying together and encouraging others in ministry in a typical meeting.
This work, like all spiritual work, tends to dissipate unless ongoing focus and energy is given to it. We have appointed a one-to-one discipleship coordinator for the men and one for the women, who drive this ministry, by further training, encouragement, and circulating testimonies. There is always more to be done, but it is exciting to see God at work through this ministry.
We currently have well over 120 people in one-to-one discipling relationships across the church. We hope to continue growing this. The discipleship program has led to four young people seeking to do an MTS apprenticeship (so far).
About New Life Youth
New Life Youth has approximately 35 young people attending regularly on Friday nights ranging from year 7 to year 12 and above. We are blessed to have many different cultures attending the church and youth group.
Who are they?
We have a core group that attend New Life Christian church. We also have a range of young people who are from surrounding churches who do not have a youth group so we see this as an opportunity to serve other churches. Other youth attending would be connected to a young person who is looking to share the gospel.
The discipleship program at New Life Youth
The discipleship program for our youth is part of the wider church program and culture to grow people to maturity in Christ. We see everyone as a follower and learner of Jesus which impacts all of life.
Our vision for this at Youth is to see every young person being discipled and discipling others. We currently have 75% of young people involved.
The idea is to meet weekly or fortnightly with another person to encourage each other in our faith, by reading the Word of God together and praying for each other. Using Swedish method or by using a range of Bible Study materials.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
This passage is a great reflection of the growth we have been blessed to see in our young people as the fruit from one to one. The Word of God has the power to transform the heart, character and conviction of people as they read, discuss, think and apply God’s Word to their lives, within healthy relationships.
We see a growth in godliness in that our young people are increasingly making life choices which honor Christ. Furthermore, most of our young people are now keen to read the Bible and prayer with each other. On Sundays they sit at the front of the church so as to be able to concentrate on the Word preached. Many now take notes during the sermon.
In addition, a growing number of our young people serve in the church and attend our monthly prayer meetings. They are also more confident on sharing their faith with their non-Christian friends, and increasingly do so outside church (e.g. at school).
They are also learning the importance of being part of the church family. The Youth leaders run annual Parent and Youth and Seniors and Youth evenings where youth interact with others in the congregation.
And all this happens within the struggles of living in a fallen, broken world full of distractions and temptations and with ups and downs. It’s in this context that one to one has been so valuable. We all need more than a Friday and Sunday program, because important as these programs are, one-to-one discipleship with fellowship around God’s word and prayer is a key to focusing faith in a personal way in our lives.
One other result is that a small number of our young people have resisted the challenging nature of real faith and despite our seeking to draw them in have retreated to the ‘fringe.’
This has been a long 6-year journey which started slow but has seen much fruit in the lives of our young people. As a result, as a church we have seen the power of God’s Word and have a greater confidence in God’s Word doing his Kingdom building work.