Much too often, ministries get an idea and set off down the road toward… what?  Lots of good intention.  Lots of energy.  But sometimes, too little vision.  Too little planning.  Too little critical evaluation.

We know that we have a big Bible and a tiny window of time with students, so what we teach is not just important: it is critical.  In the process of putting together a content driven ministry, we asked ourselves three questions:

  1. If we could open up a student’s head and heart and pour in anything, what would it be?
  2. Whom do we want students to be when they graduate and leave our ministry? 
  3. What do we want students to take into the world for Jesus Christ?

By beginning with the end result in mind, we have answered those questions and are building a ministry that retains its focus and keeps the Main Thing the Main Thing.  Our goal is to do as Jesus said…  ‘Make disciples’; fully devoted disciples.  While there is a lot of information to be shared, we’re more concerned about transformation.  We lean hard on The Apostle Paul’s call when he wrote in Romans 12: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Below are the principles; the irreducible minimums that we consider to be most impactful teachings we can offer.  These are life-giving, sustainable principles that we pray students will come to embrace during their years in Student Ministry at GFUMC.  These are an intentional approach to student discipleship.


Authentic Faith:

True faith is knowing that you can trust God no matter what.  We can have confidence that God is who He says He is and will do all He has promised to do.

Spiritual Disciplines:

The words imply legalism and boredom, but in fact, it’s the opposite.  Focusing on our relationship with God leads to a deeper spiritual life and overflows into our everyday. When we see as God sees, we follow God’s lead.

Moral Boundaries:

Instead of being tossed about on the waves in a culture where clear moral limits is old fashioned, students can learn to navigate the waters; honoring themselves, others and God. It’s about way more than sex.  It’s about protecting our bodies, hearts and future from regret.

Healthy Friendships:

You become who you hang around.  That’s just a fact. We all want to be included and find acceptance, but make no mistake - your friends will determine the direction and quality of your life.  Make those relationships count.

Wise Choices:

Right or wrong?  True or false?  We can argue about that all day long and get nowhere.  Asking ‘is this wise?’ may keep options and future choices open.  That we might have a full and abundant life is God’s desire. Making wise choices in life makes it doable.

Ultimate Authority:

True freedom is found under authority.  That sounds counterintuitive, but the truth is that when we submit to God’s authority, we take the heavy lifting off ourselves and put it on the One who can truly handle it. 

Others First:

Selflessness must be learned. God, Others, Self.  Proper priority leads to spiritual life that is focused outwardly instead of inwardly.  Followers of Jesus take on the true nature of humility and service.


If you have any questions or concerns about your student(s) or student discipleship at Gainesville First, please don’t hesitate to contact us.