The Secrets of Disciple Making

What business are you in?

If you are in the youth ministry you’re in the business of producing disciples. So why does it seem so hit and miss with some students moving forward and others falling off the rails? It has taken me many years but I think I am discovering that these are the secrets each of us need to know: 

The the most important secret is the disciple maker’s skills.

As I meet with youth ministers in different countries I find that some of them were discipled really well by a youth ministry leader when they were younger. Here is what they say about the person who discipled them:

  • They went out of their way to spend time with me outside of youth
  • They built a relationship with me even when I didn’t invest in the relationship all that much
  • They listened to me even when my ideas were un-Christian, angry, or just out-to-lunch
  • They asked me the hard questions about sin in my life and I knew that they could be trusted to not share with anyone and help me to get back on track
  • They showed me grace when I fell without approving or making light of my sin
  • They were available for me. Our relationship wasn’t scheduled appointments. I was able to get in touch with them
  • They were are friend but it was clear that they weren’t a buddy that I could push around
  • They were genuine, authentic, real about their victories and struggles as a person and a Christian
  • They shared life with me not just the Bible. “He brought me on youth group errands and even asked for my input.”
  • They were able to communicate love in a way that connected with me
  • They knew when to push me forward, when to pull and when to back off
  • I never felt judged because they were humble and shared times when they had messed up too

4 Basics

What stands out to me from all of these experiences is that the disciple maker:


  1. built a loving, trusting, supportive non-judgemental relationship one-to-one outside of the group
  2. was genuine and humble moving the student forward in their faith and closer to Jesus
  3. didn’t make excuses for sin but helped the student repent and get back on track
  4. they continued to be available and stayed long term in the students life


Did I miss anything?


This list doesn’t cover everything but it does reflect what I have heard from others and observed with students who I discipled. If there is something that stands out to you or something that I may have missed please leave a comment.

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email


  1. Matthewsays:

    Great post ron!

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