Practice Discipleship

Why “Practice Discipleship”?

Recent studies (National Study of Youth and Religion; Exemplary Youth Ministry) have shown:

  • The majority of young people have a “benignly positive” attitude toward religion – youth don’t get worked up about faith matters because faith simply doesn’t impact their daily lives. The authors have named this “religion” Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a watered-down version of Christianity that is primarily about doing good and getting along with others.
  • Parents are the most significant influence of faith in the lives of young people, but other adults play an important role. The problem: most adults also subscribe to the beliefs of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, so the question becomes, what content are we delivering to the next generation?
  • The majority of both youth and adults lack the ability to articulate their faith, and do not seem to know the basics of what Christianity teaches.

It sounds dire. But there is hope! Research also shows that there are effective ways to deepen faith formation in young people:

  • A “culture” of youth ministry in a congregation, in which young people are integrated into every aspect of ministry.
  • A congregation with strong pastoral leadership that emphasizes faith practices and supports youth ministry.
  • Trained, equipped, supported and empowered adults in leadership roles.
  • Trained, equipped, supported and empowered youth in leadership roles.

If we want our young people to have a faith that makes a difference in their daily lives, it is vital that we have trained and equipped faith-filled adults who can give them the tools (faith practices) to follow Jesus.

Practice Discipleship Initiative Purpose Statement

The Practice Discipleship Initiative fosters faithful, thoughtful and intentional leaders in congregations who follow Jesus in their daily lives.

The Practice Discipleship Initiative will:

  • Educate: Train leadership to accompany young people on their faith journey.
  • Connect: Develop partnerships to strengthen faith formation opportunities for and with young people.
  • Renew: Gather leaders for mutual support and encouragement in ministry.

PD1 (2011-2012): Opportunity or Despair? Youth Ministry at the Crossroads

PD1 launched the Practice Discipleship Initiative in 2011-2012, in partnership with the ELCA Youth Gathering. The training sessions are strictly geared for general training in Lutheran theology, youth ministry theory and practices, although references may be included in regards to the ELCA Youth Gathering.

The webinars offered last year were:

  • Lutheran Theology: God at Work in the World
  • Lutheran Theology: How Lutherans Read the Bible
  • Your Role as Leader
  • Strategic Planning
  • Leading a Small Group
  • Faith Conversations
  • Planning for the Unexpected

You can access these at ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s Webinar Archive.

PD2 (2012-2013): Faith Formation in a Missional Age

The world is changing rapidly. 1 out of every 5 adults in the USA claims to have no religious affiliation. Our task of faith formation just got more difficult. The purpose of this year’s Practice Discipleship Project is to explore the realities of faith formation in this missional age. These sessions will offer theological and theoretical foundations as well as practical ideas for faithfully moving forward with your ministry in these new times.

Again, online webinars are offered – free trainings that give you an opportunity to participate in discussions with peers across the country. This year’s offerings are:

  • Faith Formation in a Missional Age (Dr. Terri Elton, Jan13)
  • If Necessary Use Words (Dr. Hans Wiersma, Jan 20)
  • Theories of Culture (Dr. Nate Framback, Feb 3)
  • Working Together in Solidarity (Rozella White, Feb 17)
  • Inculturating the Gospel (Dr. Colleen Windham-Hughes, Mar 3)
  • Dog Eating Chicken (Heather Hansen, Mar 17)
  • Going Public (Dr. Jeremy Myers, Apr 7)

These are offered at 4:00 EST/EDT. You can find descriptions of each and register for upcoming webinars.

Project Sponsors:

The Practice Discipleship Initiative is a ministry of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network, in partnership with:

Youth Ministry Network