"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7
Okay, this may sound like heresy, but it's not. We have an advantage that Jesus did not have when it comes to discipleship. And that advantage is "the Helper" (AKA "The Holy Spirit.")
While Jesus himself was indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) his disciples didn't receive the Holy Spirit until Acts 2:1-4. So, for three and a half years or so, Jesus was fighting an uphill battle when it came to seeing his 12 young disciples deeply transformed by his discipleship efforts. Even after all the time he poured into them, at the end of his earthly ministry, one of them betrayed him, one of them disowned him (three times mind you) and all of them forsook him (Mark 14:43-52.)
But, once the disciples received the Holy Spirit, it's a totally different story. Now they were the ones boldly risking everything for the fame and Name of Christ! They didn't disown Christ they boldly preached his message without fear of the consequences. Acts 4:13 puts it this way, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."
The difference between the "old" failing, flailing and fleeing disciples and the new unflinching, unrelenting and unstoppable disciples was the Holy Spirit living in them and through them! That's why Jesus told his disciples "it is to your advantage that I go away" because it was only then that Jesus would send them the Holy Spirit!
So here is the advantage that we have that Jesus did not...the teenagers we are discipling have the Holy Spirit! According to Ephesians 1:13, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal,the promised Holy Spirit...."
As soon as your teenagers believed they received the Holy Spirit. He is in them to teach them (John 14:26), lead them (Romans 8:14), empower them (Ephesians 3:16-19) and conform them to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18.)
The Holy Spirit can take your teenagers further and farther than even Jesus could because the Holy Spirit is working from the inside out!
There is a meterological phenomenon called "Rapid Intensification." It happens when the conditions are just right and a tropical storm churning over the ocean turns into a massive Category 5 hurricane in a matter of hours.
The Holy Spirit can be the "rapid intensification event" that accelerates the discipleship process in the hearts of our teenagers. He is brewing like an unstoppable storm of transformation in their souls, ready to change them massively, rapidly and permanently!
Yes we need to invest in them! Yes we need to follow the way of Jesus when it comes to disicpling! Yes we need a process to do this effectively (we highly recommend 4 Chair Discipling as a great tool for this process!)
But don't think that the disicpleship process has to take decades or even years to capture multiplication momentum. The Holy Spirit can accelerate the process further and faster than we ever imainged...just like he did with the early disciples after Jesus left the scene.
This is the advantage we have over Jesus in the disicpling process. Let's help our teenagers unleash the Holy Spirit's power through their lives so we can help them grow deep in the faith and go wide with the Gospel!
Thank God for the Holy Spirit's transformational power available to us and our teenagers! He is our advantage!