Chase Abner writes about how imprinting your ministry DNA on students is key to multiplying disciples and ministries.
There’s few things as rewarding as when your students replicate your investment in their life by discipling others. Sometimes you see it before they graduate. Sometimes it’s years later when they’ve graduated and are serving their guts out in a local church somewhere. It’s one of the special ways God affirms your leadership by showing you that your values have been imprinted on your disciples.
It shows that you’ve successfully dialed in your DNA.
Let me share a story that shows how this looks when it happens well.
I recently served on a team producing a video to highlight how the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University of Oklahoma has impacted collegiate-reaching around North America. Over the past forty-some years, this ministry has been reaching students with the Gospel and sending them out as missionaries through all sorts of ministry vehicles, all around the world. Students from this ministry have gone on to start the Salt Company movement in Iowa and the Christian Challenge movement sweeping from Kansas/Nebraska to the California coastline. These ministries have become similar launching pads for all sorts of college ministries, church plants, and marketplace missionaries around the world.
For the video, we first interviewed some leaders who were at least two generations away from the ministry at OU. In other words, they are now leading ministries started by former OU BCM students. Then, we interviewed a former OU BCM student who is planting college ministries in California. Finally, we went all the way back to the source to interview Max Barnett and John Kelsey, the former and current BCM director respectively.
We interviewed each of these guys separately. They didn’t collaborate on their answers. It was all off the cuff. And yet each of these guys said the same thing about the key to their ministries.
They spend their time investing deeply in just a few individuals.
Yes, some of them have large, attractional services. Some of them utilize a missional community approach. But if you boil it all down, they’d say that the core of who they are and what they do is wrapped up in each of their staff and leaders discipling just a handful students.
And what is the fruit? Disciples multiplied. Ministries multiplied.
Let me conclude with four quick personal observations on how these ministries have been so successful in dialing in the DNA for their students and staff.
- They keep it simple.
They may dabble in other things, but they say no to everything that would dilute their ability to invest most of their resources in personal discipleship.
- They staff for discipleship.
They add staff to ensure that every student leader is getting quality discipleship. They also utilize a support-raising model so that they can more feasibly add staff to meet this need.
- They rehearse their DNA.
They make sure every student knows their core values. They make sure every student knows their core values. They make sure every student knows their core values.
- They celebrate the right things.
Some of these ministries are the largest on their campus. In fact, some of them are the largest in their states. However, you won’t hear them boasting about that. Instead, they celebrate sending people out to plant other ministries or to join the work of God in the hard-to-reach places on the globe.
Do you see your DNA getting imprinted on students? Are they living out those principles when they leave your ministry? Are you sending your people out with values and practices they can replicate?
If not, then I encourage you to examine your ministry.
Is it too complicated?
Do you need more staff?
Are you impressing your vision and mission on your students?
Are you celebrating the right things?