In that past 11 years, the Lord has been gracious to put people in my life who taught me how to raise indigenous leaders from urban youth through weekly discipleship.  Here are some of my best hints to seeing spiritual fruit in the life of an urban teen.  I encourage you to do more than just read these tips - put them into practice!

  • Consider meeting with a small group of urban teens (2 to 3) once a week, rather than meeting with just one teen.  This gives the young people an opportunity to speak spiritual truth into each other’s lives rather than always hearing it from you.  One of my favorite ways to start these types of conversations was to ask, “Tasha, what do you think God thinks about what is going on in Missy’s life?  What scriptures do you think applies to her situation?”  When given the chance, they can come up with some pretty awesome advice for each other.  (Romans 15:14)
  • Eat a meal once a week with your discipleship group.  Part of being a disciple is learning how to be a part of a healthy family.  For many urban teens they might have never had a meal sitting at a table with adults.  They will need extra help to know how to set the table, how to listen to each other during dinner and how to do the dishes as a team. (Think Jesus and the Disciples!)
  • Spend as much time as you can with your disciples.  Don’t just see them once a week and expect them to trust how much you love them.  Call them alongside of you in the little things in life.  Ask them to go to the grocery store with you, to the bank with you, to get your oil changed, to pick up your dry cleaning, to the hardware store or to family movie night.  It is amazing how much urban teens just want to be with someone who cares and loves them - no matter what are you are doing together! (John 15:15)
  • Model being teachable for them by asking your urban teens for their input in your life.  How do you think it feels to them that you always get to correct them for their actions and attitudes, but they never get a chance to speak into your life?  Show them the true way of a disciple, that God can use any person to speak spiritual truth into our lives. (Proverbs 10:17)
  • Pray for your disciples all the time.  You are in a spiritual battle for the future of these teens, and praying for them just once a week before you meet with probably won’t cut it.  Get other people to pray for them, pray for them morning noon and night, pray for them on the treadmill, pray for them while you are driving. Consider praying less about their sinful behavior that needs to change, but rather that their relationship with God grows deeper. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
  • When you focus on discipleship of urban youth, other parts of your job that you like might suffer.  Your City Life Club might not be as slick with smooth transitions and you might have to cut back on a doing that extra power point that took 3 hours to prepare.  Take a hard look at your schedule, what needs to give in order for you to do the hard work of deeply investing in the next generation of urban leaders?  (1 Peter 5:2-4)
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