I spent the last four days in Daytona Beach equipping students to be, and make, disciples of Jesus. While we had to improvise because of COVID-19 restrictions, the students were still fully engaged and excited about how their faith was being challenged. We used Sonlife’s Reverb training to energize and equip the students to live a Great Commandment—Great Commission lifestyle.
This week brought me back to my first years in youth ministry when I took students to Sonlife’s SEMP conference at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago. SEMP (Students Equipped to Minister to Peers) was a weeklong event with several hundred students from across the country being equipped in evangelism and apologetics. That equipping included a missions component where the students went out on the streets, train stations, tourist locations, and beaches throughout Chicago to initiate gospel conversations. Many people were led to faith in Christ. Several years ago, Sonlife joined forces with Dare 2 Share to continue this SEMP training under the name Lead The Cause.
When I initially joined Sonlife’s Team back in 2001, one of my responsibilities was the development of our Jr. High Ministry version of SEMP, an event called Equip. I traveled throughout North America helping ministries that wanted to multiply Equip in their area. One thing that made Equip unique compared to SEMP was the focus on Peer Care, Great Commandment love, along with training on Peer Share, Great Commission practices.
Reverb has taken that training a step further.
We teach students that a disciple, a follower of Christ, can be described with six simple words.
Reverb’s training is broken up into three basic sections: remain, relate, and reclaim.
A disciple must learn to remain in Him. Remaining speaks to the nature of our relationship with God, living a life that reflects both intimacy with and dependency upon God.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
In the remain training that students receive, they learn how to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength as they focus on guarding their heart against temptation. Connecting with God through worship, prayer, and His Word, and creating healthy Sabbath-like rhythms including fasting, rest, and reflection.
Students are equipped with a simple acronym based on the Lord’s Prayer to help them know how to have a meaningful conversation with God.
In learning how to study the Bible, students are taught to ask and answer two basic questions each day when they read God’s Word.
1. What does God want me to know?
2. What does God want me to do?
Each training section is accompanied by an experience that reinforces and cements the training the students received, like prayer stations or getting up early to have devotions while watching the sun rise over the ocean waves in Daytona Beach.
A disciple must learn to relate to others in love, like Jesus. No command is more frequently given to the church in the New Testament than this one. Love one another. Love each other. Love your neighbor as yourself.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
“This is my command: Love each other.”
In the relate training that students receive, they learn how to love people as they care for them as Jesus would. Students care by learning to:
Connect in authentic friendships.
Ask the Father to draw close and meet their needs.
Respond by seeing needs and meeting them in practical ways.
Encourage them in their faith.
While Reverb would generally include a hands on serving experience to complement the relate training section, COVID-19 prohibited our group from doing anything hands-on this week, so the students were encouraged to do something simple instead. Message a friend and ask, “You’re such a great friend! I’m so thankful for you. How are you doing? Is there anything I can pray about for you?”
A disciple must learn to reclaim the lost, making new disciples by sharing the gospel and reaching their friends for Christ. While disciple-making involves more than evangelism, the fact of the matter is, there is no disciple-making without evangelism. It is the starting point. When Jesus commanded His disciples to “Go and make disciples,” He was literally saying, “Go and make new disciples.”
“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ Jesus.”
In the reclaim training that students receive, they are taught, what Sonlife has long called, Eternal CPR. While CPR is used to save a life physically, Eternal CPR is the process God invites us into to save a life eternally!
Cultivate Christ-like friendships as we pray for and care for others.
Plant seeds of spiritual truth as we initiate spiritual conversations.
Reap a spiritual harvest by sharing the gospel and inviting our friends to respond.
Again, Reverb training would generally follow up this reclaim section with the students being sent out onto the street, in the park, or on the beach to engage people in spiritual conversations and practice sharing their faith, but in light of COVID-19, our students instead messaged a friend who doesn’t know Christ to initiate a gospel conversation. They had already prayed for this friend, that God would open their heart to His message of grace and hope. Now, they were to take the next step and start the conversation.
Students at Reverb are encouraged that when they learn to remain, relate, and reclaim, they can then help their friend who they have led to faith in Christ to repeat the same process. When they do this, they are a disciple who is making disciples. This is the Reverb Movement to make disciples!
By Doug Holliday