Service Discipleship Model


Here’s an approach to discipling young people in Estonia that has grown out of our summer mininstry for the last 5 years. Any feedback is welcome!


This method seeks to provide an integrative, cohort driven, mentored, service oriented discipleship resource for Estonian young people. The idea is to disciple 6-8 young people over the course of a year using their own summer projects as a context for practicing what we learn together and committing to communicate and meet throughout the year to solidify the summer’s lessons.

Some Observations

  • Discipleship is a shared, lifelong journey – Therefore, we focus energy on a core group of handpicked young people and work with them over the course of a summer/year. Shared experiences during this time will forge mutually supportive relationships that will continue to grow as youth grow older and learn to exercise their call to service both in the church and in their community.
  • Projects often displace discipleship – Therefore, rather than adding another project to the table, this method seeks to be the thread that weaves existing projects together suffusing them with a deeper level of meaning and effectiveness. With mentored supervision and intentional participation of the cohort, otherwise unrelated projects become the context in which discipleship and leadership training can occur.
  • Commitment to mission starts at home – We want to build up a commitment to the local church AND mission through service in local communities. Team members are encouraged to suggest mission opportunities in needy areas of their own region and to represent the concerns of region to the rest of the group.

In Short

The project would start with a week long intensive Spring Training which would introduce the goals and topics for the year and bond cohort members as they overcome obstacles along the journey.

Participants would then commit to serve alongside one another in local ministry projects at least once a month for three months through the summer. During each project, mentors (2 per group of youth) would focus on supporting, teaching and ministering alongside the youth paying particular attention to each person’s gifts, personality, strengths and weaknesses and giving personal feedback.

The summer would end with a commissioning ceremony sending each of the young people into ministry in their home context (whatever that might be) for the remainder of the year. Personal mentor-ship and mutual support from team-members would continue throughout the year. Young people who complete such a program would then be eligible to apply for future Alongside Internship opportunities with our churches in the US.

Implementation Tasks

  • Identify potential mentors (2 per cohort group means 3:1 ratio of disciples:mentors)
  • Identify first cohort group members (with help of regional leaders)
  • Develop or find an existing curriculum to work through with cohort
  • Identify existing projects in cohort member’s home regions OR begin to develop a project that fits the region’s needs.

One of the things that troubles me most …


One of the things that troubles me most about ministry talk in the church is how often we elevate monetary and physical resources above human ones and how this juxtaposition of values can undermine our ultimate mission. It seems to me that Church history would indicate that some of our healthiest seasons have been when saving grace, Christian character, and the sustenance and guidance of the Holy Spirit were the only commodities we could count on.

This seems to also be the case in our current situation where some of the most sustained growth is happening in places where resources are at a bare minimum. Conversely, the health of the Church in the West is slowly diminishing in spite of the fact that we hold the vast majority of the world’s resources.

All this begs the question: What are the Church’s most important resources? Here are some of my thoughts about the importance of discipleship in the church over against our dominant “resource paradigm”.