Elder's Prayer - Discipleship Now Weekend 2017
Please find below Rob Stouffer's notes from the Elder's Prayer this past Sunday.
Good to recognize the obvious – this is not a normal Sunday, nor is this normal elder attire.
More than 50 students and leaders have been together since Friday at 5pm. We have enjoyed excellent teaching, terrific times of singing, serious conversations about Gods word. Additionally, we worked together Saturday afternoon serving Samuel Nelson’s church in downtown Kansas City, enjoyed tasty meals together and had lots of laughs along the way. Thank you church members who served us so well by providing meals and opening your homes for us to sleep.
The elders asked me 4 or 5 years ago to give specific shepherding care to our student ministry. It is a joy to serve and shepherd the students. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because of the fellow lay leaders I get to serve alongside. On any given week, we will have about 15 adults investing in our students through discipleship relationships. 15 adults. For a church our size, it is pretty amazing. These adults are not chaperones or sponsors. They are are disciplers. These are Titus 2 men and women investing in students. It’s a marvelous thing to see. It’s a great joy of mine.
As a ministry, we have a mission statement that helps guide the ministry. Our mission is to glorify God by exposing students to the transforming power of scripture and the Gospel in partnership with parents and the teaching of our elders. We aim to create a culture of discipleship that fosters a growing knowledge of and love for God. We desire our students to develop a love for the church and for their lives to become increasingly more Christ-like as they grow toward adulthood.
This is what we are aiming to do. Week in, week out as we serve our students and their parents. Once a year, we try to pull of this Discipleship Now (DNow) weekend event with an intensive discipleship emphasis. We plan for and invest in this weekend because we believe it is consistent with and moves us towards our mission.
In addition to our mission statement we work towards accomplishing, as a leadership team, we have also identified some key values. These are values that we want to mark the ministry or define the ministry. Below are some of those values.
- Scripture – everything is based upon it. We want students to see the sufficiency and centrality of scripture in all aspects of their lives.
- Church – we don’t want to be an island. We want students to value and understand both membership and baptism, to see a believer’s role/position in the larger body of Christ. We love the church and want students to grow and share that love for the bride of Christ.
- Discipleship – culture of discipleship – consequential conversations only happen where relationships have first been established.
- Serving – we desire the students to be others-focused. We push them to zealously serve others within the church and outside of the church.
- Sufficiency of Christ - we want students to see that Christ and Scripture are sufficient in all matters every day.
There is something else we value. It’s the actually the first value we identify.
- The Gospel – we do not assume it. We are driven by it. We want gospel thinking to pervade all areas of student lives and of the ministry.
- We don't assume the gospel in our students. We know some are saved. We also know some are unsaved. Here is the tricky part - sometimes (or even most of the time) it's difficult to discern genuine salvation. This is especially true because most come from gospel-centered and gospel-saturated homes. Parents have taught their sons and daughters well. Sunday School teachers have reinforced biblical truth taught at home. Most of these students sit under at least 100 sermons a year. They hear good preaching, week in and week out every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. They know the right answers to our questions. They have a mental ascent to gospel truth. But is the heart changed? Have they been regenerated? Do they truly possess holy affections?
Oftentimes, we simply don’t know. So, we don't assume. We don’t assume the gospel. But we pray. And we preach the gospel. And we try to live out the gospel before them.
Church family, please join the student leaders in our efforts to minister to our students. Pray for our students. Evangelize our students. Engage our students. Pray for the student leaders who serve them faithfully. Pray for the parents of these students who want nothing more in the world than to see their sons and daughters submit their lives to King Jesus. Please don't miss the opportunity to evangelize these precious souls within the walls of this building as they are racing toward adulthood.
Thank you God for the families and students in this church. I simply ask that you will save them. That You cause our students to see their sin and their desperate need for a savior. That You will become more desirable to them than anything else in this world. That they would gladly submit their lives to King Jesus.
We know your word tells us the work of salvation is your work. They are not saved by our persuasive words, clever techniques, or even intensive weekends like we have just enjoyed. You are the author and perfector of saving faith. You cause it to happen. We ask that you give them a zeal for holy things and a longing after Yourself and personal holiness
For the students who are saved, I pray for their sanctification. I pray they would grow in Christ-likeness. I pray they would deliberately and eagerly prepare to be your faithful ambassadors in this world.
For our church, as we have already been encouraged to do this week, I pray that many adults would look for tangible and practical ways to engage in a Titus 2 mentality to come alongside our students. To encourage them so "that the Word of God may not be reviled" (Titus 2:5) and "that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." (Titus 2:10)
Thank you for Your kindness in bringing uniquely equipped and gifted adults who love our students and regularly invest in discipling relationships with them. To You be all glory.