Leader's Guide

Series Overview

Head-Heart-Hands is based on the “greatest commandment” as recorded in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures and repeated by Jesus in his teaching (see Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:37-40): "You must love the LORD​ your God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength."

The content focuses on becoming more like Jesus as a whole person — head, heart, and hands; or thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

List Of Lessons

There are 15 lessons grouped into three buckets:

Foundation​ (discipleship basics)

  • The Greatest Commandment
  • Abiding in Jesus (Being With Jesus)
  • Conforming to Jesus (Becoming Like Jesus)

Formation (habits and practices that move us closer to Jesus)

  • Time in Scripture
  • Time in Prayer
  • Time in Worship
  • Time in Fellowship

Fruition​ (attitudes and actions of a growing disciple)

  • Humble Service
  • Deeper Wisdom
  • Generous Hospitality
  • Gracious Forgiveness
  • Faithful Witness
  • Patient Suffering
  • Sacred Justice
  • Whole and Holy (wrap-up)

Lesson Elements

Each online lesson includes the following:

  • Intro (ideas to start things off)
  • Media (song or video that can be used anywhere in the lesson)
  • WarmUp (opening conversation starters)
  • Read and Reflect (scripture, engagement, reflection, discussion)
  • Try This (ideas for personal growth and practice)
  • Additional Scripture (verses related to the theme)
  • More Resources (relevant videos, books, podcasts)

Students Take-Home Elements

Each take-home printable student card includes the following elements:

  • Scripture (main passage and additional daily passages)
  • Personal Challenge (set a personal goal or action step)
  • Head-Heart-Hands application (process whole-person learning)
  • Daily Goal & Examen (prompts for morning focus and evening reflection)

Planning & Prep

We aim to be “faithful disciples who disciple faithfully,” so the content is best engaged first in the leader’s own life of discipleship and then with students, ​ We recommend that you spend some time working through the contents of each lesson yourself, becoming familiar with the theme, the gospel narrative, the teaching passage, and the discussion guides. When you meet with your students, the discussion, teaching, and learning will then flow out of your own healthy discipleship.

None of the lessons include answers, Biblical exposition, or main teaching points. We believe all the scripture passages contain important truths that you will discover as you spend time in the lesson yourself. You can then guide your students toward truth without serving it to them on a platter.

Ask the Lord to guide your own time in his Word, and then to guide you as you lead your students into lively conversation and rich Scripture engagement.

Adapting & Scaling Scripture

Each lesson has more content than you can process in a single meeting. After you’ve worked through the content yourself, determine which Scripture passages to focus on. We recommend the following:

WyldLife:​ focus on the example of Jesus

Young Life:​ focus on the example of Jesus and a teaching passage

College/Leaders:​ your choice

Adapting & Scaling Discussion Questions

You can user fewer discussion questions than are included and can freely adapt them for your group like this:


Make questions direct​ and one-dimensional by modifying and breaking down the question.

  • Modify​ the question:
  1. (original) ​ How have you defined or understood discipleship before now?
  2. (WyldLife) ​ ​ What do you think discipleship is?
  • Breakdown​ the question:
  1. (original) What comes to mind when you hear “identity in Christ”?
  2. (WyldLife) 1. What is identity? 2. What do you think it means to live “in Christ”? 3. What do you think this means: “My identity is in Christ”?

YoungLives​ ​

Include at least one discussion point about how the theme intersects with their role as a mother or mother-to-be.


Include discussion about how the content shapes their leadership and their discipling of others.


If you have people in your Head-Heart-Hands group who don’t yet follow Jesus, engage them by slightly shifting some of the questions. For example, instead of asking, “What do you think God is saying to you in these verses,” you could ask, “What do you think this story is about? Did you know this is what Christians believe? Is this what you’ve heard about Jesus before? What do you think about that?”

Reading Scripture

We believe that communal reading of Scripture is a life-giving and sacred experience. When you read Scripture, read it with respect, enthusiasm, and joy. Be familiar enough with all the passages to read them fluently and engagingly.

Do not ask middle school students to read a passage aloud until you’ve read it to the group first.

Read the passage from different versions when possible.

Never put anyone on the spot by asking them to read aloud if they’re not comfortable doing so.

Model good Scripture reading: comfortable pace, clear speech, appropriate emphasis, logical pausing.

Student Take-Home Card

WyldLife, Young Life, Young Lives:

Print front and back (flip on short edge) on cardstock if possible. Decide as a group what your “personal challenge” will be (ideas are included in online content). Complete the front of the card at the end of your meeting. The back side of the card is for follow-up, so the learning can continue throughout the week. Adjust the Scripture reading schedule to fit your meeting schedule in whatever way makes the most sense.


Determine if the take-home card fits your group. It may feel "too young" for them.

Head-Heart-Hands Printable Model


The model may be too abstract for some MS students. Simply jump into the lessons with them. You can show them the model after finishing the series and allow them to connect the dots about how all the pieces fit together.

Young Life, Young Lives, College, Leaders​

Print off and distribute the first week. It will be the frame that supports the overall series and each lesson.

Other Resources

On the main page you’ll find additional resources including an “Identity in Christ” self-assessment, “Convo Starters” to help kick-off your meetings, “Signs of Growth-Spaces for Growth” that provide a simple framework for observing the learning process for each elements of Head-Heart-Hands, and more.


The process of becoming more like Jesus (discipleship) is slow work. It’s not flashy or trendy. It is the most humble and humbling journey of this lifetime.

The process of helping others become more like Jesus (discipling) is also slow work. It's not flashy or trendy. It is the most humble and humbling part of ministry.

Whether it’s in a formal small group setting or an organic moment of hanging out together, your students are imitating you as they learn to imitate Jesus, just as Paul said in 1 Corinthians. Your life, words, actions, and attitudes are speaking all the time, not just to the kids who already follow Jesus, but also to those who don’t yet know or trust him.

You are disciples. And you are disciplers — which is a high and holy calling.

Thank you for walking alongside teens and leading them into a life of deep discipleship.

The Head-Heart-Hands series was made possible by a generous Templeton sub-grant awarded through Fuller Youth Institute.

Resources for people who help others become more like Jesus.

Contact Us

Send us your ideas for new discipleship resources.

Stay Updated

Receive YL Discipleship news and updates in your inbox.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2103 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

© 2004-2023 Young Life. All rights reserved.