Making Disciples on the Road
SOUL SURVIVOR AUSTRALIA
🔥“Discipleship on the road - A HOW TOO.. “
A road trip is the perfect Australian opportunity to make disciples of Jesus, building relationship on a fun adventure to serve others by using your God given gifts.
There are so many components on a road trip:
- Setting the scene with the itinerary, introductions of one another and those fun ‘car rules’
- getting to know you games with unwrapping fruit chews with funny questions
- having everyone play DJ with their favourite playlists and singing along at the top of their lungs
- And just enjoying the scenery and relaxing
All these parts and more, make a fantastic opportunity to build people up in Christ. It is our hope you will make the most of this trip to do just that - build people up in Christ and we hope these thoughts will help you to do this.
🚌 1. Going on an adventure with purpose
Every road trip has an adventure. It might be to visit somewhere new like ‘the apostles’ on the Great Ocean Road or to visit your Aunt Beatrice who can hardly hear you. Whatever the reason for the road trip, every road trip has a purpose and when you know your purpose you can get excited and make the most of it.
Story: when I was 23 I went on a road trip with an older Pastor way out west in NSW for 3 days and the only thing that saved me from inwardly crying ( I was dying!! Talk back radio!!! ) was knowing that at the end of this trip we would share about Jesus! That purpose kept me going!
The purpose of this road trip in April is to help young people on their journey with Jesus and prayerfully wonder what their adventure with Jesus might be. So with this purpose clearly in mind we want to build an itinerary that will help this age group.
What kind of itinerary will help this?
- FUN - the music, the conversations, the pit stops, the food, the company, the entertainment
- Being a Tour guide - sharing the basic outline of the trip - the WHY - the WHO and the WHAT
WHY - why are we going ( there will be lots of reasons for people and thats all ok )
WHO - who are we with, who will we meet and why are we meeting them
WHAT - what are we going to do when we get there
- Jesus input - depending again upon where your people are on the journey with Jesus, you will choose what ‘level’ of Bible, testimony input and prayer culture to encourage
- Serving others when you arrive. Giving something for your people to do will really help with belonging and growing from this experience.
Now that we have a clear purpose for this road trip and a very basic ‘itinerary’ lets unpack more of the dynamics.
🤣 2. Road trips are fantastic for building relationship
Discipleship is ALL about relationship. Our relationship with God, with one another and this world that God loves. Therefore we have to grow in learning how to build relationship in these 3 ways.
Road trips are great for this because they can be as fun, deep & serious, quiet or contemplative as you want or as needed. Often people find sitting down for a ‘hot chocolate or coffee’ a bit intimidating and a road trip can provide lots of distraction with the scenery and music and fun.
Some practical tips I’ve found helpful for building relationship are: ( preface: of course be appropriate with who you have in the car )
- ask lots of questions - light ones and deeper ones ( more on questions below)
- learn the names and some stories of the family and friends, birthdays, your favourite ‘this and that’ ( eg: subjects at school, movies etc ) and expand the conversations that seem to have some energy to them
- Music really affects the mood so choose music to create fun, thinking time, singalongs ( but you better lead the way we singing loud!)
- Do what’s fun for your people with the music and food choice so they ENJOY it. You might not enjoy their choice of food or music and thats ok because this is about them.
Story: one of my first youth leaders was a rugby player but I was a surfer so he decided to learn to surf and take me and my brother on day/night surf trips 3 hours away. I vividly remember he let us choose the music and the McDonalds and the bakeries which helped us really enjoy it and chat. And over time we all gained a great relationship to help us follow Jesus better.
👊 Car rules
I know it sounds simple and perhaps a bit obvious but many people don’t feel they can speak up. All of us have been stuck in the car with someone or a group and haven’t felt free to say when they need the loo, or feel out of the conversation or its too cold/hot and are about to spew.
So every time I start a road trip I say “here are the rules of this car”
If you are too cold or hot.. SAY!
If the music is making you vomit.. SAY!
If you need the loo… SAY! But give us 10mins warning
If you want fresh air.. SAY!
If you are bored.. SAY!
If you are starving.. SAY!
We want to create a FUN culture.
🤔 Daydreaming with music
Music is important to wonder on road trips, to relax and to think about the journey with God.
Story: in Bible college my principal took me on a road trip to Canberra where he spoke at a youth gathering. As we drove, talked, McDonalds and went to the gathering.. I remember day dreaming with the music on this road trip, that one day I’d love to do this as a job… and now look whats happened! I have that job!
Music helps us to think and to feel. We also need to learn to embrace the quiet too and let the scenery, Gods creation do its work. My thinking music is Enya ( did you cringe) what’s yours?
🎢 It’s a journey
I really like the word ‘journey’ to build a framework for how to understand discipleship and of course for discipleship on the road. Journey develops our imagination to include:
- the start of the trip where we meet others, feel nervous and have expectations
- The ‘first hour’ where its a bit loud and chaotic OR its the opposite where its cold and no one looks happy
- The ‘second hour’ where the conversations may get some traction
- The ‘final hour’ where you start to tell everyone more about where you are going, who you will meet and what you will do - prepare to land!
Every road trip and every journey is different and not everything will go to plan or can be controlled. Its a journey. Thinking of it like a journey can help you navigate the community and to know what to do next.
👂 How are you doing really? - Listen twice, speak once.
Over the 25 years of youth ministry I have had to learn about conversations.. oh boy!
You can get some chatters where I have dreamt of slowing walking away to see if they notice.
You can get some ‘one word’ kind of people where it feels like you are pulling teeth from a cow.
You can get some drifting off into space people where I often move my head to see where they are looking.
You can also get some people who do share and provide something to work with - Praise God!
EVERYONE is different with speaking and sharing. Its a journey!
So what have I learnt that might be helpful?
- start with light questions and finding out lighter information to find some ground
- be interested in what they are interested in ( even if you are laughing on the inside.. eg: when I show an interest in peoples pets )
- ‘tell me more about that’ or ‘what did you think of that’ or ‘do you ever find’ or ‘how come people don’t like’ or ‘why did you choose’ .. I find these helpful comments or questions to expand a topic
- You give an example of an answer that is sharing about yourself but not long enough to send them into slumber
- Keep eye contact, nod, hmmm, Really?! … try and react to what people are sharing to show you are engaged and it helps you stay engaged
Questions to help the God conversation: (preface this SO depends upon the journey stage)
So Brian… tell me about your friendship with God.. is it like..
(and find some fun, quirky analogies for people to react too)
eg: whats the title of your ‘chapter’ at the moment with God? (see I told you its quirky) or do you feel close, ho hum or great with God at the moment and why?
Or what have you been reading in the Bible lately?
Or how are you going with: praying, the Bible, sharing about Jesus, serving others, church etc..
Or what would you love to learn with God?
Conversations are a journey. Take them where they are at and slowly, sensitively move forward.
🙈 Prophetic discipleship
Over the course of the trip I am listening to the person and listening to God.
The role of prophecy is to build up in Christ.
So over the trip I ask God for bible verses, specific words, pictures, etc and share them with kindness and a spirit of building them up. And PRAY with them!!
⛺️ When at the destination
It’s so important when you have landed that you make sure everyone is safe and comfortable.
It’s so important in the mornings you be up before others and say good morning and serve.
It’s so important after breakfast that you have small group time with checking in, bible & prayer.
It’s so important in the main gatherings that you be an example with worship, learning and prayer ministry.
You are the host and an example of the culture you want to set.
🛠 When at the projects
You are the one who provides the purpose to the projects and explain why we do this and with what spirit we do this. Not everyone understands or even likes serving. So please find out the purpose and convey it with enthusiasm.
Projects are such a great time to ‘work alongside’ and to continue to build relationship and talk about ministry, skills, gifts, dreams and life plans.
Make sure they feel safe with what they are doing.
Reflect afterwards with your group about what they did well, what they learnt or simply enjoyed.
Build them up and then realise them to have downtime.
Chilling out over food is so important. Sometimes this is a great time to change up the conversation for either fun, reflection or going round the table to build community and maybe even play a game like ‘never have I ever.’ Most of us really enjoy food and everyone has different experiences of family mealtimes. So I think it’s important for us to create a culture at mealtimes that is as community as possible. Enjoy it.
🚶🏻♂️ Be patient
The week of conference or the weekend of a trip, is a journey. Be patient with where people are at. Do not give up when the trip is hard or people are seemingly not getting into it. God is leading our path. Keep checking in with people and change up the program if need be, to help with moving forward.
🏡 And Travelling home
Its SO tempting to just zone out now and chill out which is partially fine.
But for many this time of going home is SO important to:
- process what God has done in them and they normally need your help to work it out
- share observations about them - positive ones!
- prepare for going home, going back to school, back to church
- build them up for what they did so well - say what you see in them and give them something to do at home or back at church
- Thank them for coming
- And yes.. celebrate and snooze.
Lastly.. pray with them and set a time to catch up.
I hope these thoughts will help you make the most of this trip and the many more you will lead to help young people on their journey with Jesus