27 Jun, 2015 Chapter 11


(The what and how of your discipleship content)

When I started in ministry, at age twenty-one, I was young and enthusiastic. I quickly found myself teaching and preaching on multiple platforms – weekly in a youth group, plus in various Churches, at events, speaking regularly in primary, intermediate (schools for eleven and twelve year olds) and secondary school classrooms and assemblies, running lunch time groups, and so forth. It was all go, and I loved it.

But we don’t always see our blind-spots.

If we do not carefully plan our content for discipleship we will inadvertently speak our own passions, and miss out on many other areas.

After five years, I remember an instance when one of my youth connected with the Pastor who had discipled me in my youth. That Pastor came to me afterwards and asked ‘Why have you never taught your youth on spiritual gifts?’ I realised something, which I share with you now. If we do not carefully plan our content for discipleship we will inadvertently speak our own passions, and miss out on many other areas.  As an evangelist, I could neglect such planning in all my evangelistic work, as the content I need to cover as an evangelist wasn’t so varied.  But as a Pastor and discipler of a congregation, I could not do the same.

We need to disciple our youth and young adults in the ‘whole counsel of God’.

We all have blind-spots…
…and so do the Churches we are a part of.

So, here we will cover:

(1) What to teach: Youth ministry curriculum

(2) How we could structure our youth discipleship

(3) What to teach: Development of a young adults ministry curriculum

(4) How we could structure and manage our young adults discipleship


(1) What to teach: A Youth Ministry Curriculum

The first thing I did after discovering some of my ‘blind-spots’ was to create a youth curriculum.

a. The Concept of a Spiral Curriculum

An important question was: How often do I need to teach something for it to be considered ‘taught’? The answer may differ depending on the age and background of those you teach, but quite obviously it is unlikely that members will remember or integrate something if we only ever mention it to them once.

Application is the challenge and goal of true biblical discipleship.

For a youth ministry, I suggest a curriculum that cycles every two years because:

(i) New youth join every year, so it would be good for them to hear many important lessons in the first two years of their involvement

(ii) New youth come to faith throughout the year, so this way they are discipled in a basic ‘range’ of topics within the first two years of their life as Christians.

(Please read the previous paragraph carefully, as understanding the reasons for a spiral curriculum, as well as reasons for deciding on its repetition length, are significant for understanding the relevance of all that follows here. Having understood, you can, of course, take and adapt the principles as you see fit).

The concept of a spiral curriculum is that one covers the same topics, but at an increasing depth with each cycle. This is an understanding that our National Education systems employ. There is no problem repeating a ‘curriculum’. Quite the opposite, it is proven to be beneficial and necessary in enabling the lessons to sink in, and in developing students understanding and thinking in the long run. At each repetition, the students’ understanding of the topic deepens. However, it is helpful if the way it is done each time can be different so they do not become bored.

b. One’s approach to Discipleship: Finding the balance between content and application-centeredness

Another question to consider from the start, is your approach to discipleship. Some congregations have a very ‘knowledge based’ discipleship style. My conclusion, however, from observing such approaches is that they can sometimes ‘disciple’ young people with great knowledge about God, but little knowledge of God. They know about God’s ways, but have no experience. They know all about the Bible, but not how to stand in faith upon the promises of God. They know about the plight of the lost millions, and maybe even how to share the gospel, but have also never done it, or never seen a friend come to faith. They may know the theory of what to teach new believers, but have never actually discipled a new believer either, because they’ve never never needed to. They can have ‘text book’ knowledge but no burning and compelling passion for the lost in their hearts. I suggest that such a person has not yet been discipled.

One’s understanding, or ethos, then, affects how one might utilise the platforms one has for discipleship, such as the large group service, the small group, camps, education classes, etc.

For me, my conviction is that application is exceptionally important for good spiritual foundations in youth. This has led me to the conclusion that my small group’s need is to focus almost entirely on the application of the Word of God – not its study. I thus set the goal of our Cell Groups as ‘Living the Word’. In other words, in our youth ministry, while great effort went into giving good content through the preaching, when they went to their small groups we were intentionally very application-centered.  In Cell Groups, instead of ‘studying’ more and more things, they gave their focus to discussing, unpacking, and applying what they have already learnt through the preached messages. For me, I have found this to be necessary in most places I have discipled so as to avoid the trap of educating minds, but of not truly impacting hearts and lives.

Application is the challenge and goal of true biblical discipleship.

Even twelve year olds can come up from a children’s ministry with heads full of all sorts of knowledge – but they can know little to nothing of God, of His power at work in the realities of our daily experiences.  However, the application of spiritual knowledge is its entire purpose!

c. Considering the time frame for discipleship

Thus, if there is one primary platform for content (in my case the message in the youth service) it follows that I can only teach an absolute maximum of 52 things per year (and in reality, much less). Thus, a strategy considers time frame as well, considering the number of topics, and also seasons when different things might best be taught. For example, it is not my priority to teach the finer details of Biblical exegesis in the youth ministry, as it is a stretch for many of their their cognitive abilities to grasp.  However, through my example in preaching they indirectly do learn these things, as I always seek to teach the Word with integrity.

The spirituality of the message comes from the spirituality of the preacher, not merely the spirituality of the content!

But teaching a few finer details about exegesis (fair and right interpretation of Scriptures) is important, so where does it fit?

The balance is that, in the young adults ministry, I intentionally do teach exposition as a topic, and take them through more detailed exegetical studies so they can grapple with the issues involved in biblical interpretation, and learn the skills. There is a logic to this also, as the depth of a twelve year old’s comprehension is limited, but by the time a youth is nineteen years old, they are actually interested (if these things are taught in a clear and somewhat engaging manner).

Thus, we are working toward a list of about seventy primary teaching points for the youth to learn in a two year long repeating cycle of content, and maybe the same again for tertiary young adults years. Some teaching points in the young adult curriculum would be a repetition and reinforcement of the same important Biblical truths or principles as were discipled in the youth years. Some, however, would be entirely different content.

d. How to conceal the existence of a curriculum

Regarding how I use the youth curriculum, my goal is that our youth will never know this curriculum or ‘habit’ exists. Knowing that it exists – and especially that it is repeated – has no benefit for the youth. But also keeping its existence hidden forces us to be creative. This benefits our preaching. (For example, how many times can you preach the same basic content without your youth ever noticing?).

This ‘concealing’ is achieved through the way each topic is preached each time round. Firstly, one can preach different content on a same topic, so there is no actual repetition. For example, when teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit, one can preach different points, or when teaching about sacrificial love one can teach from different scriptures.

This ‘repackaging’ is also useful for us as pastors, as it stops us from (a) from any boredom in preaching the same messages, or (b) giving inadequate diligence to our heart-preparation which takes place as a part of the whole sermon preparation process.

In summary, the same kinds of topics?  Yes.  The same messages?  No (except after maybe five years when no one will know).

e. Additional considerations:

There are then some additional considerations, before beginning to place topics next to dates in a planning calendar.

I believe that if we give diligence to such intentional and holistic discipleship of young people, the Holy Spirit will surely aid us in the work to actually achieve the greater goal!

For example, some values and principles can be taught through our example, such as a fitting attitude toward and treatment of the Word of God. For example, to aid our young peoples respect for the Word, we seek to base every message in a specific passage. Further, we have Old Testament and New Testament Series every year (of six to eight weeks in length) so as to teach them about books of the Bible.

But here is the strategic part. We then design these book study series in such a way that we cover topics that are already on our curriculum topic list (where these topics are the natural application of a given Scripture passage).  We are thus seeking to accomplish more than one discipleship goal at a time.

We then consider how often some topics might need to be covered. For example, while it might be alright to teach on the holiness of God every two years, it is not sufficient in a youth ministry to preach on ‘BGR’ (Boy – Girl relationships, lust and sexual temptation…) only every second year. Such a topic in a youth ministry needs annual coverage. If we don’t do this, there may well be consequences. Another needed annual topic here in Singapore, for example, is diligence in studies. Evangelism, or the importance of having quiet time, also need annual emphasis. Thus some topics are covered every year because of their relevance in the given context.

But all the topics covered, in some way, every two years.

The next step is to repeat the same exercise... but this time considering what might be taught in addition to, in balance of, and in contrast to what was (and was not) taught at the youth ministry level.

A tip for using this curriculum:  I print out the first page once every two years, ticking off the topics covered in the first year, and (implying that I put it somewhere where I can find it) planning my ‘second year’ curriculum each time based on the topics I have not covered.

Final comment on youth curriculum: The balance between content and true spirituality
As a final comment on the youth curriculum, it cannot be stressed enough that in the preaching of the Word, we must do more than preach a topic. We must seek and communicate the heart of God.  While there is a correct consideration given to covering certain content in our discipleship, preaching and discipling are spiritual activities. Two preachers can preach the same content, and yet it can feel like two entirely different messages.  The spirituality of the message comes from the spirituality of the preacher, not merely the spirituality of the content!

The Holy Spirit dynamic in anointed, life-changing preaching cannot be emphasised enough.

It is possible to achieve a mature balance between content and being Spirit led.

He is a wise man who can hold one thing in one hand without letting go of what is in the other.

As they get older we need to move from 'quantitative' goals (what we teach) to more 'qualitative' goals (how well they have learnt it).

(2) How we could structure our youth discipleship

If we consider the example of Jesus, the Master Discipler, He discipled His disciples not only through direct teaching, but also having them learn as bystanders when He taught others. As they lived with Him and observed His life they were exposed to various experiences which were later on debriefed. They also learned as they were sent out on short-term mission trips. It was a holistic approach.  There are thus a variety of platforms through which we can disciple our members.

Let’s, then consider the platforms we have, and the kinds of content that might best be discipled on them.

(i) Most youth ministries meet weekly. This is the large group meeting. There is a weekly message, or a study content.

A hidden reason that many younger young adults wander from the faith is the fundamental doubts they have at the core of their belief.

(ii) Most youth ministries then have small groups of some kind. These can also be the vehicle for content, although, as mentioned before, in the way I structure youth discipleship I reserve these small groups for the understanding and applying of what was taught through the message (as well as for caring for one another, for outreach planning and for prayer).

(iii) Discipling servant attitudes is best done through having youth serve in a ministry. This is what the chapter about ‘managing ministry teams’ is about. Knowing the theory of what it means to be a servant is not the same as actually being a servant. There is thus a content and purpose for these groups in our discipleship.

(iv) Discipling a passion for the lost multitudes and for the less fortunate is better done on a mission trip than in a ‘classroom’. Why not have it a goal to have every youth go on one mission trip before ending their secondary education, and then for every tertiary-aged young adult to go on another trip (i.e., two trips by the age of twenty-five)?

We will lose many young people if we do not engage these very real issues. I believe many adults are 'pew sitters' because their convictions were fundamentally undermined by these very kinds of issues and doubts in their young adult years.

(v) Imparting knowledge from the Word is accomplished every time we teach, but nothing beats reading the Bible for themselves.

(vi) So, why not encourage this regularly at announcement time.

(vii) To help motivate them to read the Bible for themselves you could set  a goal that every youth would read their whole Bible at least once during their time with the youth ministry (at a pace of one chapter per day it takes four years, or at four chapters per day just one year)! You could annually give ‘awards’ to youth who achieve this goal as a part of an annual award (encouragement) service, or find some other fun way to do it.

(viii) Nurturing belief in the power of the Holy Spirit is best done through a personal experience of the Spirit’s work.  While we cannot give ‘experiences’, we can create environments where people (of all ages) are more wholeheartedly focused on the things of God, seeing spiritual things with greater clarity, and hungering for the things of God at a deeper level. Spiritual retreats and camps are the best place for this, as well as for stirring fresh spiritual passion in general.

(ix) Discipling the heart of evangelism is also best done through experiences. Regular prayer for the lost can have a quite powerful effect in stirring a compelling vision for the lost (such that they’d actually do something about it).

(x) Encouraging School outreach groups (starting out as prayer groups with the goal to make a few evangelistic attempts per year) will get them to become more active.

(xi) But what about the benefits of regular testimonies in encouraging faith and focus for outreach (or for any area)? Nothing is more motivating than a ‘success story’. So what about having a regular testimony time, and intentionally seeking out good testimonies about seizing opportunities to share faith, and of friends who have come to faith. Giving these a strong emphasis takes care of the ‘motivation factor’ needed in this area.

(xii) Additional teaching, and even stirring of passion and faith, can be accomplished through the reading of books. I have seen many young people inspired through books. If we can find a way to intentionally facilitate such reading, this becomes an avenue to disciple content. (I will make additional comments on libraries for our youth and young adults under the coming young adult section.)

These final two years with the 'tertiary young adults' are thus your last chance to correct things you feel are not yet as they could, or should be.

You may be able to think of more platforms than these twelve also.

The point is that the content doesn’t have to be all covered through messages.

This is your one-time opportunity to do a 'qualitative' assessment of their discipleship to see what they have learnt, and what areas need to be covered again.

You can plan what you will do through each of these platforms so as to disciple them both in their understanding and first application of various Biblical truths and principles.

You can then consider how that content is both spread out and structured, so as to accomplish a certain standard of maturity by the time they are working young adults (points three to five are yet to come).

I believe that if we give diligence to such intentional and holistic discipleship of young people, the Holy Spirit will surely aid us in the work to actually achieve the greater goal!

(3) What to teach: Development of a Young Adults Ministry Curriculum

The next step is to repeat the same exercise for the Tertiary Young Adults Ministry, but this time considering what might be taught in addition to, in balance of, and in contrast to what was (and was not) taught at the youth ministry level.

a. Probably a shorter, more targeted, curriculum

Depending on the size of your group, and desires or ethos of your Church, some will have weekly young adults services, while others will have only monthly fellowships or small groups.

If you have a weekly service, your ‘curriculum’ of topics may indeed be as long as the youth ministry’s simply because you will have space and responsibility to deliver at least one weekly content.

However, if your young adults attend the adult Sunday services, then your curriculum is likely to be much shorter because many of the core topics will be covered through attending the ‘adult’ service. In such a scenario, the curriculum need not cover every area – rather, only (a) ‘age-group specific’ content and (b) content that you feel will benefit from extra emphasis.

b. Probably a one-time-only curriculum

A second thing to consider is the length of time for the curriculum.  I have proposed that two years is a suitable time frame for ‘recycling’ a youth ministry’s curriculum.  It is my opinion that the content for young adults does not need to be ‘recycled’ so quickly.  Many members are already grounded in the basics of the faith because they came through the youth ministry.  So, some of these ‘basics’ topics could be moved to, for example, new believers classes, just as they would ideally be there for any adult new believers (some Churches put such content into their Baptism Classes).  Thus this ‘tertiary young adults curriculum’ could be considered a list of content to be covered just once during their ‘tertiary young adults’ years. We might still, however, want to have some topics that are taught or reinforced on an annual basis, such as encouraging devotional lives and personal outreach.

It is possible! If we give our focus toward being a certain kind of Christian, and to then discipling a certain kind of Christian, we might just succeed in discipling that certain kind of Christian!

So, how many years might this curriculum be for? If Tertiary Young Adult years are broadly defined as a period of six years following secondary studies (by which time most will be in their first or second year of work). I suggest this curriculum is one that could be generally covered in the first four of those years.

c. Leaving two years for an intentional qualitative assessment and response

What might happen to the remaining two years of their tertiary young adult years?  I suggests a qualitative assessment, followed by an intentional discipleship response.

As we get to the end of our opportunity to input into these young adults’ foundations (I.e., as they approach their mid-twenties) we will find ourselves looking at their lives, and wondering how much they really caught of what we taught. Our discipleship goal has ever been the mere impartation of content, but instead that they would go on to live that content out (to apply it).

These last two years could thus be seen as a last chance, while staff funding and time are available for it, to move from ‘quantitative’ goals (what we teach) to more ‘qualitative’ goals (how well they have learnt it). A ‘qualitative’ assessment could be made, and then the Pastor and Cell Group leaders could seek to re-teach the areas they feel their members they are weak in. New ‘exposure’ experiences could be given, and balances could be brought, all before the opportunity runs out. We will discuss this final two years under point e.

d. Regarding the content for the ‘tertiary young adults’ years

As mentioned, the tertiary young adults content would have similarities and differences to the youth content. My starting list continues to have evangelism as a topic, because this needs a continuous strong emphasis.  But, on a topical list, new concerns such as clubbing, drinking or sexual temptations pertaining to dating, or courting couples would need addressing.

Then there are the things which were intentionally not given great emphasis in the youth years. In my case this would involve things such as specific teaching for all members on exegetical skills and perspectives. This could take the form of a seminar held every second year, with the application and consolidation of the lessons learnt being achieved through book studies done at a Cell Groups level.

Another important area for emphasis in the early young adults years is apologetics. Many incorrectly believe that apologetics content is not really that important, because many young people are not really interested in it.  This view, however, overlooks, for example, the effect of the many public attacks on the reliability of the Bible, coming through our television programs, movies, and articles in magazines. A hidden reason that many younger young adults wander from the faith is the fundamental doubts they have at the core of their belief. In today’s increasingly relativistic society, we debate and speak out about our convictions less and less, but this does not mean we don’t have them. A seeming disinterest in apologetic content does not mean they are not thinking about, or having doubts in, those areas. Its just that the thought influence of relativism has bred an apathy toward discerning truth.

Addressing such issues is, thus, not ‘extra teaching’ for a seminar course that only a few should attend. It is core curriculum! We need to put a fence at the top of the cliff and deal with the issues that are undermining the faith of our young adults (or the depth of conviction they have in their faith), before it is too late. This is the age demographic at which to address these issues, once and for all.

As another example on this same point, consider the topic of evolution.  Most of us feel bored when we have to talk about it, and it is true that many young adults have as much passion about the topic as we do.  However, television programs, universities, magazines and many very clever scientists believe evolution is true – and macro-evolution and Christianity are effectively incongruent (cannot go together).  So what are our young adults to believe?  At university level, we can be assured they are thinking about, and even discussing such things with their friends. They may believe a scientist on the matter over and above believing our ‘creation fairy story’, unless we give them good reason to consider otherwise!

I was an ‘Ang moh’ (inferring Caucasian) in Singapore, and found most Singaporeans disinterested in such topics. However, in talking with many Christian young people, I discovered that they actually held many doubts about Christianity because of the continuous and pervasive attacks against our faith.

The onus is on us to give a defense. We will lose many young people if we do not engage these very real issues. I believe many adults are ‘pew sitters’ because their convictions were fundamentally undermined by these very kinds of issues and doubts in their young adults years. Their unanswered questions, and doubts that have followed, have rendered them ineffective!

For a starting curriculum for tertiary young adults, see pages one and two of  the attachment ’12 – Young Adults Ministry Curriculum Thoughts’ in the  Kick-start Resource CD.

A side-note on libraries
Note that we can also disciple content through books, at all levels. I have run a youth library and a young adults library.  Each contains only about twenty of the best books I know on a variety of topic areas. In establishing these libraries, I was quite ruthless in my selection, as there are simply so many possible books.  Simplicity, and proven authority and ‘impact’ were key criteria in selecting books and authors. I have encouraged members at all levels to try to read two good spiritually-related books per year.

My discipleship goal is not merely that they read these books, but that they develop the HABIT of reading spiritual books. Thus, when someone does read most of the books provided and wants more books, I direct them to a Christian book store. I am not trying to provide an all-inclusive library.  The ‘library’ is merely a way to accomplish a greater goal – a HABIT of learning through reading. Twenty books is more than enough, and I found I could more passionately promote the reading of these books because I became familiar with them. This principle also helped avoid administrative hassle.

In both the youth and young adults libraries there are some books that are critical, in my view, for discipleship. For example, to impart an understanding of grace (as opposed to legalism) Philip Yancey’s ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace’ is powerful. For the need to teach true spiritual leadership, as opposed to worldly leadership, J.O Sanders ‘Spiritual Leadership’ is very good. I consider the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ essential understanding for young adults for their BGRs (boy-girl relationships), and also for understanding their friendships and family relationships. I also consider Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s ‘Boundaries’ to be an outstanding book that I would encourage every young adult to read! The comment coming from every person who has read that book is ‘I wish I’d read that earlier!’ Reading a few biographies of notable missionary pioneers and preachers from history is also a powerful and useful tool in discipling passion and perspective. This list could go on. My point is that a small number of extra good books can be used to strengthen our discipleship content in a wide range of important areas.

A copy of books in our young adults library at one stage is on page four and five of ’12 – Young Adult Ministry Curriculum Thoughts’ on the Kick-start Resource CD.

In addition to these two libraries, I also had my personal library from which I have brought a selection to our Cell Group Leaders meetings, allowing our leaders to borrow my own books. The system for overseeing this is very simple (see page five of the above attachment. I simply SMS /text message those who have borrowed books the day before each ministry leaders meeting).

e. The content for the final two ‘tertiary young adults years’

You are now at your last opportunity to input into the foundational values of these young people before they graduate to come under the general leadership directions of the adult congregation (as an ‘adult’ Cell Group). Their years under an intentionally discipling youth and tertiary young adults ministry are now nearing their end. Soon they will become ‘working young adults’, and will fully integrate into the life of the adult congregation, with a necessarily more generalised content (as it caters to all ages). They will come under the oversight of the adult congregation’s pastors. Their key issues will be work stress, and relationally on pre-marriage counseling, marriage and having children. They are moving into adulthood!

Quite often, a Young Adults Pastor oversees both the tertiary and working young adults. I note, for consideration, that these two groups are quite different, and so it would be important for the way they are led to reflect that difference. (I note this only because they are often grouped together and treated as if they were the same). As suggested throughout this book, I proposed that ‘tertiary young adults’ still needed considerable directional encouragement. By the time they are in their mid-twenties the greater majority have hopefully established their values , and so the same intensity and intentionality in discipleship is no longer needed. A nineteen year old and a twenty-five year old are different.

Getting back to our topic, these final two years with the ‘tertiary young adults’ are thus your last chance to correct things you feel are not yet as they could, or should be. While you are now preparing them for the transition to working life, this does not needs the same kind of preparation as earlier transitions, as it is unlikely the transition will rock their lives such that they would both stop attendance at Church and also abandon their faith (they might stop attendance due to work pressures, but a change in religious convictions is unlikely at this age). I would suggest the curriculum could thus be largely established around what is needed to accomplish the overarching discipleship goals you have for your youth and young adults. In other words, ask the qualitative question; have they become what was envisaged for them when the youth and young adults ministry plans were first established? Then decide what their content for the final two years will be. This is your one-time opportunity to do a ‘qualitative’ assessment of their discipleship, to see what they have learnt, and what areas need to be covered again.

For some starting questions for a ‘qualitative assessment’ of their discipleship see page three of the attachment ’12 – Young Adults Ministry Curriculum Thoughts’ on the Kick-start Resource CD.  This is a start only toward this. You would quickly have your own questions when you reach that stage, as you would know the goals you had for your youth and young adults throughout, and would be passionate to see them come that ‘certain kind of person’ for the Lord. Considering these questions areas of weakness will be quite easily discerned.

(4) How we could structure and manage the Young Adults Discipleship

Having put together what we want to disciple our young adults in, we now consider how we manage it.

The principles are the same as for the youth ministry. Jesus didn’t disciple through teaching alone (whether small or large groups). His discipleship was relationally based. It was very experiential. It included practical assignments, etc.

For us, as mentioned earlier in the chapter on Young Adults Ministry, we can consider the role and function of our large group meetings, small groups, camp, attendance at conferences (and which conferences, and why), extra Christian Education classes for the Tertiary Young Adults, our Church’s adult Christian Education programs (which they are now old enough to easily understand), mission trips, specialised extra study groups, prayer groups, and so forth.

But how we use these platforms will be different from the youth ministry, because we now have a four-year curriculum. The principle challenges of this will be (a) structuring in the things you want covered annually (such as encouraging evangelism maybe through the large monthly fellowship, and teaching on openness to the Holy Spirit’s gifts and leading through…), and (b) how to cover age-specific content. For example, the new small groups (age eighteen or nineteen) may be doing team building, apologetics related to content the girls are learning in one philosophy class, and a pastoral care focus for the guys who are struggling through their National Service (compulsory military) training. The year four small groups are however twenty-two years old. Half the group are involved in serious relationships, and some are now starting work. Thus the different small groups may be doing different content at different times.

The young adults curriculum in the Kick-start Resource CD thus assumes that the Pastor will work with each small group in determining its content for the year, allowing flexibility. The curriculum is set out as a tick-list, with a copy printed for each small group. Different groups would cover different content in different years, but through keeping a copy of the master list (and ticking what is covered) a workable system exists for a range of desired content to be covered.

As an overview of it, monthly fellowships can cover more topical content, being a place where large group momentum is built, and from which the overarching motivation for the ministry is given. Seminars could, for example, be where the earlier mentioned training on exegesis could be done (so that it is not given to all, as some would have been through this already), this being held every two years. Thus the new groups learn through the seminar and are then sent back to their small groups to put it into practice in doing their own guided book study series.  Each group would then have its own content, being accountable to the Pastor in their selection of this. Then, at different times of the year there could be common content that all the groups do at the same time, maybe linking with a teaching series of event (such as a ’40 Days of Purpose’ program, or some such thing). This would strengthen the feeling of unity in the whole ministry. Your Church might also have some study series at all their small groups do at the same time. You could join with these.

As a side note regarding how many adult small group series you partner with, I would caution that at a tertiary young adult stage it would be good if the Tertiary Young Adult Pastor could have some say in which of these series they had to all participate in, because the whole thrust of this intentional discipleship could be undermined if all the Cell content were required to follow an adult curriculum. My encouragement would be that these guys are not realy yet adults. The realities of their ‘in between’ life stage, and its resulting culture, is the whole point of this discussion.

At the end of the day, everything can have its place, and it could be really effective!

The vision and motivation for it all
I think the possibility is quite exciting – but accomplishing it would require leadership that believed in the vision of such a caring and comprehensive discipleship. It is like you are putting them all through Bible school before they turn twenty-five, discipling them intentionally like Jesus did, and with a specific vision in mind of seeing them released to the harvest field, like Jesus had.

This kind of effort (in intentionally discipling them like this) only comes because you are dissatisfied with the condition of the modern Church.  It comes from having faith and vision to see believers released who are different. Believers who have the heart and fire of Jesus in them, and who are willing to risk everything for the cause of Christ. Jesus’ disciples ‘training course’ had two elements. Firstly there was Jesus’ discipleship of them, but secondly it was the Holy Spirit’s empowering that gave the ‘machinery’ its needed fuel. Your job is to be Jesus’ hands and feet as disciplers. And, along the way, you can create spaces in which the Holy Spirit could similarly get hold of them.

It is possible! If we give our focus toward being a certain kind of Christian, and to then discipling a certain kind of Christian, we might just succeed in discipling that certain kind of Christian!

In summary of a Young Adult Discipleship Curriculum:

Thus, over four to six years, a responsible discipleship content could be adequately covered, as well as a qualitative reassessment before the cell groups ‘graduate’ out from the tertiary young adult demographic and into the working world.

Overarching discipleship goals for your young people from ages of approximately twelve through twenty-five could be realistically set, and achieved, so long as the overarching leadership of this vision is supported and empowered.

As with all things, a vision will rise and fall on its leadership – but many Churches in Singapore are both strong and well-resourced.  I see no reason why many of these Churches could not develop a level of competence in what they do such that they could achieve this goal.

It would be interesting to see what fruit would follow, for such Churches might not only have some of the best discipled young people in the nation, but have them go on to become adult leaders, Pastors,  business and community leaders, and Missionaries as well!


Something to reflect upon

1. Make a list of all the areas you would ideally want your twenty-five year old young adults to have been discipled in.

2. Make a list of the areas you could, or would need to, cover through in the youth ministry.

– You could look at the Youth Curriculum in the resource CD for a comparison, and to understand some balances mentioned in that document.

– Can you also keep your list below seventy topics, thus making a two-year curriculum of this content possible?

– Your next task, were you to desire to do it, would be to attempt to cover these topics through your various ministry platforms in the next two-year period, and to impact the value of this to your core leaders, so it might become a sustainable pattern.

3. Make a list of the areas that might be better covered in the young adults ministry.

– Have a look at the Young Adults Curriculum in the Kick-start Resource CD.  At which platforms could you cover the different content?

– Your next task, were you to be open to try would be to discuss this with your core leaders, and see if you could find a way to make the vision achievable.

4. Consider with which young adults Cell Group leaders you might need to individually meet up, so as to bring about an intelligent discipling direction to what they are doing and learning together. Think through how you might help a tertiary young adults Cell Group cover a curriculum of content over four years.

5. Then think through how you might go about helping the groups leaders do a qualitative assessment of their members’ learning after that, to come up with an intelligent discipling content for their final two years before working life begins.


It’s all about the vision!  If the vision is strong, the process will work.  If the vision is not really ‘believed in’, the process will feel merely administrative, and be soon forgotten.

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