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.

In the book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey wrote, ‘begin with the end in mind’.  Covey teaches that by considering the end first, we can envision and build a model; in our case, a ministry model; that effectively takes us to our desired goal and maximizes the return on what is invested.

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 at the end, we have answered those questions and built 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.

The Marks of Discipleship below represent what we consider to be the irreducible minimums that students need to embrace.  These are an intentional approach to student discipleship.


Authentic Faith:

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

Spiritual Disciplines:

The words imply structure and legalism, but in fact, it’s the opposite.  Focusing on our devotional lives leads to a disciplined spiritual life is a life that overflows from a deep connection with God.  When we see as God sees, you will do as God says.

Moral Boundaries:

In a culture where establishing and maintaining clear moral limits is old fashioned, we all need to learn how to protect our bodies, hearts and emotions and future by honoring God’s plan for sex and morality.

Healthy Friendships:

You’ve heard it before… You become who you hang around.  It’s very normal to seek acceptance.  We all want to be included, 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.  But asking ‘is this wise?’  Making wise choices opens up a bright future with less regret.

Ultimate Authority:

Knowing that true freedom is found under authority. 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 not hesitate to contact us.