(published on Wed., Jan 16, 2013, in National Youth Ministries Momentum Magazine)
There is a good possibility that you are listening to music while reading this, and an even greater possibility that it is being played through a computer, phone, or iProduct. Our musical world has gone digital. We're all listening to 0s and 1s put together to sound like our favorite musical style. It sounds good too! Go ahead; you can bob your head for a bit. But does it sound as good as it could?
In the early days of digital music there was a bit (pun intended) of a format war. The dilemma was, How do we pack as many songs as possible on a portable device and yet still maintain some level of fidelity to the sound?" The battle was, "What is good enough?" Eventually the MP3 and MP4 formats won out. They provided sound that was good enough to the average human ear. Sure, FLAC and WAV are better file formats. They have lossless sound. (All of the audiophiles are nodding their heads in agreement.) But they create huge files. The industry has settled on a sound quality that is good enough for the average music consumer.
In your discipleship of students you have to ask, "Is it good enough?" In an ideal world, our students would all read their Bibles and pray for 5 hours a day in between training for Teen Bible Quiz, Fine Arts and their ministry as a Youth Alive Campus Missionary. But marching band, athletics, academics, jobs and many other demands crowd out the time they carve away for discipleship. Perfect discipleship would be a youth ministry of twelve where we wander our city proclaiming the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders while we disciple those twelve. Good enough discipleship asks, "How can I disciple students whose parents place their athletic development over their spiritual development?"
In an ideal world our students would all read their Bibles and pray for 5 hours a day in between training for Teen Bible Quiz, Fine Arts and their ministry as a Youth Alive Campus Missionary. But marching band, athletics, academics, jobs and many other demands crowd out the time they carve away for discipleship.
Perhaps you create a Facebook page, post on their page, or send a group message. Send out tweets as reminders. Maybe it's making podcasts with 10 minute discipleship lessons they can listen to on the way to school. A mass text message with the week's Scripture verse could remind them that God's Word is a resource. Develop small groups for accountability that meet at different times and days during the week, rather than one specific night. Campus visits to connect with students during their busiest times. Student led prayer groups. Ask yourself, "How can I equip these students to be missionaries in their real world?"
I realize that this article could be received as a call away from perfection and holiness, but please think about the 1st Century people who were Christian, but didn't have a microwave or fast food, no washing machines, and no grocery stores. They put in long, arduous hours, with little down time. Discipleship has never been easy, but it must always meet us where we live. So the ending challenge is: are you demanding FLAC and WAV from your students when MP3 or MP4 would work? Do you see MP3s as a compromise that is evil, even sinful, or as a ministry tool to get discipleship into the hands of as many people in the real world where they live?