Student Ministry and Life Transformation Groups

September 13, 2013 — 10 Comments

Over the next few weeks, I’ve asked several members of our team at The Austin Stone to write about how missional communities integrate with some of their areas of ministry.  To start with, my friend (and former intern!) Scott Frazier wrote a series on Student Ministry and Missional Communities.  You can find more about our Student Ministry here.

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Student Ministry and Life Transformation Groups

The most powerful moments in our ministry that I can recall of the past year revolve around students learning to read the Bible, repent of sin, and pray for their lost friends. Many of my high school boys have started to read their Bible on a daily basis for the first time in their life. One even sends me pictures of his journal entries for accountability!

I’ve seen students repent of pornography addiction, cutting, eating disorders, and take steps towards healing through the power of the gospel. We’ve also seen our students pray for their friends, invite them to church and share the gospel with them. Powerful stuff.

If you’ve kept up with Todd’s blog you’ll see that we practice what we call Life Transformation Groups or LTG for short. You can get caught up on the practices of LTG within our church here.

Discipleship Communities

Within the student ministry we instituted a hybrid version of LTG that we call Discipleship Communities or D-Comms for short. We gather age and gender specific groups of 4 to 6 students with 2 student volunteer leaders. It doesn’t always play out that way, but it’s what we’re striving towards.

Just as in our LTG’s we emphasize three components.  

  • Hear and Obey – we want our students to learn to read the Bible for themselves. We use the REAP method of study which you can read about here (add link). Then we want our students to hold each other accountable to actually living out what they read!
  • Repent and Believe – we desire our students to identify their sin, confess and repent of their sin, and be healed of their sin. Then the student volunteer leader aides in a discussion on how the gospel speaks to that sin specifically. Hopefully as time passes our students learn how to speak the gospel to one another without the aide of the volunteer.
  • Consider and Pray – we want our students praying for their schools, their clubs/organizations, and individual names of other students within those spheres of influence. Then we want to encourage each other to think through opportunities to share the gospel in those environments.

BLESSing Others

Another crucial component in teaching our students to live on mission within our d-comms is to utilize the tool from Dave Ferguson called B.L.E.S.S. This gives our students simple and practical ways to live a life on mission.

The acronym stands for:

  • Begin with Prayer: Our students are doing this already within their d-comm.
  • Listen: We want our students listening to their friends so that they know their story.
  • Eat: We want our kids sharing meals with their non-believing friends either in their homes, out with larger groups, or through events.
  • Serve: We want our kids thinking and dreaming of ways to serve their friends.
  • Story: We want to hold our kids accountable to sharing the story of Jesus with their friends on a regular basis. We have found that this is a simple and reproducible way to teach our students how to live on mission.

The BLESS tool has been incredibly helpful and memorable for our students! How are you helping students be a disciple of Jesus?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

10 responses to Student Ministry and Life Transformation Groups

  1. Love this, Scott. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post! We do almost exactly the same thing with our youth in LTGs, and I love the model. Do the D-groups meet throughout the week, or all at the same time?

    We all meet at my house Sunday night, then split up into LTGs(with a leader, usually). The struggle I have is that the groups are often made up of different students because of which students attend or don’t attend each Sunday. I would like consistency in the groups because I think it leads to greater accountability and relationship, but practically it hasn’t worked like that yet. Thoughts or ideas?

  3. Lawson,

    We have done both. During the summer we all met in one location and then broke off into multiple groups. It allowed for some energy during the summer months. During the year we meet throughout the week simply because schedules and proximity make it difficult to gather at one time.

    I love the Sunday night idea. If we didn’t have such a large draw to the 7pm service I would do the same thing. If I were in your shoes I would give a leader the responsibility of 3-4 students. Then those 3-4 students are connected to each other and that leader for the whole year.

    If new students come then you either start a new “LTG” or you can “multiply” the previous LTG’s that are getting larger.

    I think this would allow some consistency with your leaders and students.

    Do you think that would work in your context?

    • Hey Scott,
      i have a quick question about the recommendation to assign 3-4 students to a leader. I love this, however my question comes from a statement made in an earlier post about the goal of the student ministry at the stone “equip the parents to disciple their students and disciple the students whose parents are not equipped.” Again, love it, this is something that the student ministry in my faith family has adopted. My question is would you only assign students whose parents are not equipped to an adult leader or would that go for any student regardless of their parents? Again i love it and get excited thinking about the fruit that can come out of a student being partnered with a leader. But at the same time you want to honor their parents and if they are believers help them in the discipleship of their students.
      Thanks so much!

      • Nick,

        Sorry for the delay in response my brother.

        You ask a great question. I would still encourage a leader to connect with every student, even if they have parents that are doing a great job at discipling their child.

        Ultimately, when a student connects with a leader of your youth ministry, there is a three-fold benefit. One, they are getting more deeply connected to your ministry because there is someone in the ministry who personally knows them. Second, not only do they have a personal connection, but the youth leader is reinforcing what is being taught at home. Lastly, they are connecting with other youth to create a strong social connection of fellow peers.

        Praying for continued blessing and faithfulness in your ministry!

  4. Ansel Talbert May 31, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Scott,
    Our church recently began LTG’s and I’m looking into incorporating something similar for our middle school students. You mentioned above emphasizing the three components of LTG’s and the BLESS tool, which is awesome. But do you have specific questions you use with students similar to those used in LTG’s? Or do you use the same questions from LTG card adults use? Do you have a handout or overview that you give LTG Student Leaders?

    I’m trying to develop something and would love any resources that are out there. Thanks for all you do!

    • Ansel,
      If Scott doesn’t reply here, you can try him at scott dot frazier at austinstone dot org.

      • Scott Frazier June 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

        Ansel,

        Thanks so much for the question and desiring to invest in the lives of students through accountability and discipleship.

        As of right now we’re using these questions for our students:

        1.
        a. How have you been angry, scared, or worried this week?
        What do you believe you must have in order to be happy (other than God)? (reveals idols)
        c. What do these questions show you about what you truly trust in other than God?
        d. How has Jesus met that need, desire, or problem?
        i. Do you believe in this truth about Jesus?
        2. How have you wasted time? (reveals idols and sin patterns)
        3. Have you resisted obeying God this week?
        a. Have you BLESSed the lost? Your family? Your friends?
        4. When you think about how God has loved you and forgiven you, do you remember the need to love and forgive others? If so, who comes to mind? Are you holding any grudges?
        5. How has temptation been a part of your week?
        a. How are you preparing to deal with it next week?
        b. How has Jesus met this need, desire, or problem?
        6. Is anything (school, sports, TV, internet, etc.) keeping you away from important relationships?
        7. _______________________________________ (Your personalized question)

      • Scott Frazier June 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

        As Todd said, if you want to ask any more questions please feel free to shoot me an email.

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