2 ways to help your YA’s disciple



Dec 4


Elle Zeibig

Something worth living for

Have you ever found it hard to get YA to invest their time and energy into discipling? They may be very selfless with their time and willing to invest into an array of ministry areas, but discipling doesn’t seem to be that easy to get them involved in? 

I know I have found this hard over the years! In fact, I remember numerous times of trying to convince young adults to invest their time in discipling each other, as well as the youth and it often seemed to be an uphill battle. I recall many examples of YA being willing to serve on projection, the worship team, creche and go on long and short term missionary trips, but for some reason I found it so difficult to get YA to invest time in discipling. 

Of course we want to honour YA who are selflessly investing in the Church’s wider ministries, and not take them away from this…. But we also want to understand WHY there may be difficulty in getting YA to engage in discipling, and furthermore HOW we can practically combat this to create a healthy, thriving YA ministry where we see a multiplication of Jesus-like disciplers spread! 

So, why is this so difficult? How can we help YA actively live as a discipler?

TWO REASONS why Young Adult’s may not prioritise their time and energy into discipling, may be because of a) a misconception surrounding its impact, and b) a lack of clarity surrounding how.

1. Clarify the impact

Barna Research conducted research where they interviewed more than 15,000 adults ages 18 to 35 in 25 countries and nine languages, asking them about their goals, fears, relationships, routines, and beliefs. They published a report documenting their findings specific to Australia and New Zealand.

The report labelled Young Adults the Connected Generation. They are either connected or desire relational connection. Yet, young Adults feel lonely. Only 33% of young adults feel deeply cared for by those around them. 

The report’s findings divulge Young Adults’ eagerness to make a difference in their world. “This generation is clearly engaged (or hoping to be engaged) in making a difference through causes they care about. They show a strong willingness to get involved or even lead when they have a shared sense of mission.”[1] p. 40

This data helps us understand that Young Adults like to feel connected, whilst feeling like they are making a difference – connections and impact seem to be very important to them.  

We want YA in our ministry to understand that discipling hits those two realities bang on the head. Discipling is relevant and simple – it is meant to done in relational settings and the impact is greater than they could imagine.

Just as Barna research highlights, YA are after something worth living for. 

Inspire them with:

  1. influential discipling stories – such as the life of Jesus, Paul or individuals in your church, including examples you’ve witnessed in YA ministry
  2. the potential of their discipling influence.

In sermons, studies and conversations with your YA’s, you can evaluate Scripture that shows the incredible impact of selfless investment of people. When I am sharing this with people, I often communicate part of my own story and the comparison of when I simply attended church and was trying to grow on my own vs when I had a small group of people investing in me, and I in them. The hope is to show the incredible impact and positive change that is possible. 

You can also show them numerically the insane impact that they can have as they invest in the few, comparing addition to multiplication discipling approaches. Explain clearly that whilst addition might look and feel like the greatest form of impact initially (number this and number that), multiplication far supersedes it. You could even get them to calculate X numbers over 30 years for addition v multiplication. Or simply show them this graphic – you can screenshot it here. 

As you share inspiring stories of discipling transforming lives, as well as the facts and figures associated with this approach, we pray that God would motivate their efforts and bring a fresh revelation that THIS is something worth living for. 

2. Simplify Discipling

When we overcomplicate discipling, YA may feel like it’s too hard, too restrictive or too many ways they can go wrong, this can demotivate their efforts and they can even unintentionally fill their time with other things because they’ve subconsciously put discipling in the ‘too hard’ basket. In fact, in many instances where I was struggling to engage YA at church in discipling, I realised that whilst many of them had a heart to invest in others, simply saying “well go, do it,” was too daunting and vague – not setting them up for success at all.  

We can simplify discipling, by:

  1. role modelling the life of a 24/7 discipler (show them how it’s done)
  2. teach them what you know and what you do (tell them how it’s done)
  3. pass on practical tools that will equip them to be able to disciple (equip them to do it too)


Role model and teach them examples of how discipling is done in relational settings. 

Some practical ideas to help model and teach discipling:

  • Sending something God is teaching you through a voice audio to a small group 
  • Going out for coffee and teaching somebody a simple way of how to hear from God 
  • Involving each other in your big and small decisions to get input from Believers 
  • Sharing strategies on how to reach out or invest in friends 
  • Fasting a day for a friend who is going through something tough or needs breakthrough, sharing your struggles and your wins, as well as listening to their friends’ 
  • Having a brainstorming night where a small group collaborate on how they can better disciple and invest in their wider community

The list could go on, they are simply showing Jesus and seeing Jesus in the people close to them, to further develop them into the little Jesus that they already are, all encompassed on relational settings allowing them to deepen and widen their connections, and allowing others to do the same. 


One way to simplify discipling is by equipping them with hands on, practical tools. As they disciple others there’s no doubt, they’ll encounter questions like ‘how do I hear from God?’ or ‘how do I know if this is God’s will?’ Here are some helpful and practical tools to go through with them

– Reflective practice (learning through reflecting on experiences)

– SOAP (how to hear from God)

– 4 Steps to discern God’s will

– CPR (a way to help others discover Jesus

– 5 Alignments (Seeking God on romantic relationships)

You might find some of these tools scattered around on our website or blogs, but if you would like to know more about them, please reach out to us – we’d love to pass them on! 

It can be hard to have YA invest their time and effort into discipling as it can be perceived to be impactful, or too confusing and hard. We can help support them in pouring energy into discipling by showing them that it is incredibly impactful and secondly, by simplifying it for them so they realise how easy and practical it can be for them to do.

Be Blessed,

Elle Zeibig – GenJ Team member

If you would like to learn more about how you can effectively disciple others, we’d love you to connect with you. You can connect with us by clicking on the ‘contact us’ page of the website, or by finding us on instagram @genjofficial.


Barna Group. (2019). The Connected Generation: Australia / New Zealand. Helping Church Leaders More Effectively Minister to 18–35-Year-Olds. [Report]. https://access.barna.com/studies/the-connected-generation-australia-new-zealand/