Dear Friends,

Each term I sit down with the St Thomas’ youth leaders to assess how we’re going. Jesus told us to go into the world to make disciples and I want to keep us on that target. How are we going making disciples of the youth? One way we do this is by using a tool I learned from Gav Perkins (who I think got it from Philip Jensen) called a CAMP analysis. It’s a strange name, but bear with me. I get each of the leaders to imagine their Discipleship Group as concentric circles consisting of Contacts, Attenders, Members and Partners.

On the outside are the Contacts. These are people we’ve had contact with but we haven’t seen them at youth group for the past term.

As we move inwards, we see the Attenders. These are people who have come less than every two weeks.

Further in are the Members. These are people who come every two weeks or more (some come every single week).

Contacts, Attenders, Members – these are all objective measures based on attendance.

In the centre are the Partners. I ask the leaders which of their group members are partners with us in ministry. A Partner is someone who understands the radical love of God that has been shown to us in Jesus, who has entrusted their soul into Jesus’ faithful hands, who wants to live for Jesus and who wants to partner with Lights in making Christ known. Obviously this is a more subjective measure (the leaders can’t read the hearts of the youth), but we can get a good idea.

It’s a helpful tool to see how we’re going at making disciples. It keeps us asking who is partnering with us. It means we’re thinking about next steps to explain the gospel to Contacts, Attenders and Members and the next steps to help our Partners grow as disciples.

As we look at our groups, I often point out to leaders what I think is the most dangerous group (I wonder which of the groups you would identify as most dangerous?) For me, it’s the Members. People who attend quite regularly but still haven’t got the gospel. They’re dangerous in that, if they start to outnumber the Partners, they will dominate the culture of the group. I frequently marvel that we get 80+ teenagers along on a Friday night after a tiring week of school and they are keen to sit down and listen to a Bible talk and discuss it in groups. Praise God for that! But (under God) it’s because our Partners set the culture and the others fit in. If the Members set the culture, things would get a lot more difficult and distracting.

The thing is – it’s the same at church. At our 8am, 10am and 5pm services, if the Attenders and Members start to dominate the culture, our conversation becomes less Christ-centred, our patterns of behaviour become more worldly and they rub off on each other. An interesting activity would be for you to go back to the definitions above and figure out which group you fit in. And if you find yourself outside the Partner group, ask yourself, ‘Why?’ Is it because you don’t understand the gospel yet? Is it because you haven’t entrusted your soul to Jesus yet? (If so, please talk to a Christian friend or a minister – we want to help). Maybe it’s because you don’t want to partner with us because you don’t believe we’re a church walking in obedience to Christ (please biblically rebuke us if this is the case). If you find yourself an Attender or a Member, you’re still definitely welcome, but we want to help you become a Partner with us in the gospel.

One of the great joys for me as a youth minister is serving beside a group of leaders and youth who are keen to follow Christ and make him known. May this joy continue to be repeated throughout our life together as a church!

In Christ,
Gerard O’Brien