Student discipleship is the all elusive, so important, but “what is it really” issue in Student Ministry. It takes on so many forms and looks so different that it is hard to really put our finger on it. I am sure that…no, I know for a fact that there are many people smarter than I am with endless material and teaching on student discipleship. But I want to share one thought on discipleship that I discovered in Scripture.

In the book of Acts, chapter 9, we see Saul immediately following his conversion trying to gain access to the church leaders in Jerusalem. The leadership is afraid and wants no part in it, and who could blame them? But then in verse 27 there are 4 of the most powerful words in all of Scripture,

“Then Barnabas brought him…”

WOW! That’s it right there! Barnabas brought Saul along and immediately the influence of Barnabas gained Saul access to the club, I like to call this “The Barnabas Effect”.

Here is how this plays out in Scripture. Six times following this moment we see the phrase, “Barnaba’s and Saul.” They travel together, Barnabas brings Saul to preach in churches and along on missionary journeys, and then a transition takes place. We begin to see the wording change to “Paul and Barnabas,” and 17 times we see this phrasing occur.


Why the change?

First, we see the switch from Saul to Paul which is representing the acceptance of this new nature in Paul’s life. We also see Paul’s name begin to be listed first as it is becoming clear the potential, influence, and importance of Paul in scripture.


So what does all of this mean?

I believe there is an incredible principle found in these 4 words, “Then Barnabas brought him…” Leadership is influence. We can teach all the classes and require all the extra effort we want, but nothing will be as effective as simply being with our students. Barnabas brought Saul along as he did ministry.

Bring students with you as you do ministry and life like you already were doing. You can go to Walmart or Sam’s alone, you can prepare sermons and events alone, and you can do ministry alone. But what if you brought them with you? Bring a student along for the ride while you simply live your life. Your influence on them will grow exponentially because of the access you give them to your life.


Here is the payoff

Because you are in ministry I’m sure you believe as well, that one person can change your ministry, can change their school, can change their family, and can change the world around them! One person can influence the one person who will change the world. Paul changed the church like no one else (except for Jesus) but it was the influence of Barnabas that got him connected to the church and brought him along the journey.

Some may look at the fact that Barnabas’ name began to be listed second as him becoming less important, but I disagree. I would argue that our greatest victory in ministry is to see those students that we have mentored, lived life with, and brought along with us, someday surpass us and begin to have influence that we could never have. That is success in ministry, and that is the purpose of discipleship.

Aaron Wolfe.jpg

Aaron Wolfe is from Broken Arrow, OK and is a product of the local church and Oklahoma Youth Ministries. Aaron married his wife Whitney in May 2010 and they welcomed Gabriel Truth to the world in June 2015. He has been the Student Pastor at Spring Creek Assembly in Edmond, OK since June 2013. Aaron is an avid sports fan supporting the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Red Sox, and FC Barcelona, and he is the keeper for the indoor soccer team Goal Goal Power Rangers™. 


// Twitter: @AaronDWolfe

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