A Look into Sonlife Staff Experiences: Art and Beckie Melli

Two and half years ago we moved back to the US after serving with Youth for Christ International in Europe for 27 years. During that time, we worked with US military kids on 38 bases across Europe, missionary kids at a MK school in southern Europe, and the Young Leaders Director for national youth workers with YFCI in Europe. It didn’t take us long to realize that our training as early youth leaders in Sonlife would be invaluable to us in all three settings. To understand the strategy – from Scripture in the gospels – of how Jesus made disciples, served as a compass for our training of youth workers and an effective evaluation tool for our own ministry with teens. 

Even though the materials have changed over the years, the strategy, of course, has never changed as it was given to us by Jesus himself in God’s unchanging Word. We found we could train right out of Scripture. It gave our youth workers such assurance that they were indeed making disciples, just as Jesus did – just as the early disciples did in the early church. Our favorite tool for training our staff was the Harmony Study and the Knowing Him 50-Day study on Jesus’ life and strategy. We used it with more than youth workers – to train national pastors, in women’s ministry, for small groups and Bible Studies, and even with Christian school teachers and workers and our student leaders at our missionary kid school.  

There is no greater joy than to see those in our care understand Jesus’ disciple-making command and obey Him.

When we returned to the US 2.5 years ago, we realized that many churches had lost their understanding of Jesus’ mission to “make multiplying disciples”, due largely to a lack of clear strategy from God’s Word. We began sharing what we had learned over the years and our experiences with various national ministries. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing several churches now use Jesus’ strategy for making disciples through a Sonlife study of Jesus’ life.  We have also appreciated the 4 Chair Discipling book and used it to help pastors and church leaders evaluate where those in their church are in the growth as believers. Just this last week, one of the youth pastors that we coached a couple of years ago reported that the entire youth ministry of his church now uses a disciple-making strategy from 4 Chairs, along with the growth level books written for the believer chair (chair 2).  

We continue to serve as Youth for Christ Int’l missionaries in Europe, and will be going back to visit our missionaries this fall. We are already looking forward to sharing a 4 chairs, Foundations, and Strategy seminar with some of our national teams and missionaries, as God allows.  

We, as Christians, need to understand our mission, and have a firm understanding of how to obey Jesus’ command to “make disciples” from Matthew 28. There is no greater joy than to see those in our care understand Jesus’ disciple-making command and obey Him.