What do teenagers need to grow in their faith during some of the most malleable times of their life? What can you as a youth pastor do to help students take steps in growing in their faith? There are things you probably are doing right now that are helping them out. Lets take it one step farther and be intentional with the effort you are already putting forth.
Teach about what it takes to have a thriving, growing faith!
There are things that you are doing right now that are helping. Lets identify 4 things that teenagers need to foster a growing faith.
Every student needs a place to belong. Your church and your youth ministry should be about a bunch of people coming together to do something that you cannot do on your own. Those nights are about teenagers knowing that they are not alone. Those nights are to give them an easy opportunity to get their friends there that need to know about Jesus. Those nights are where they make their love for God known along with their peers. This place of belonging is a safe place to explore, doubt, wrestle and grow.
Your faith journey actually started well before you knew God. He has known you since before you were conceived and has loved you. He sent the Holy Spirit to be with you when you placed your faith in Christ as your Savior to help you, to give you strength and to help mold you into who He wants you to become. The Holy Spirit is the one that does the life change. Teenagers need to know that their journey is more about being with Jesus, than doing things for Jesus. They need to know that they are never alone, no matter what they go through.
Being in a life group, small group, D group or whatever your church calls it, is a critical part of a teenagers faith journey. It is essential to a growing faith. This group is where they can be known on an intimate level. This is where they can get real with who they are, their flaws, their pain, their joy and a place to celebrate their wins. This is where they find encouragement, correction, community & real friendship. To be known in a small group is to have a group of people that have their back at all times.
What good is a journey without a friend. The bible is clear that iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another so its important that teenagers have someone on our journey that can keep them on point and make us stronger. Learning about accountability is so important for them, and honestly for adults too. Teenagers need to understand that being transparent with someone is important. It is also important to have a relationship with a friend that pushes each other towards being more like Jesus. Being open to being corrected and challenged is part of the journey. Teenagers who embrace accountability will take leaps and bounds in their faith journey.
Obviously there are more than just 4 but start their and see what happens!
If you would like a free 4 week sermon series called "Journey", you can download it HERE.
Keep investing in this generation, it is so worth it!
How you do anything is how you do everything. That statement has been floating around in my brain for a long time. At first I disagreed, then I totally agreed, then I wrestled with it more. The reason I wrestled with it is because I didn't want it to be true. I didn't want to believe that I wasn't disciplined in all areas of my life. The reality is there are certain areas of my life that I struggle with being disciplined in. The more I was honest about my life I could see patterns develop. How I do anything is how I do everything.
When it comes to being healthy in all aspects of life, discipline plays a roll. If you want to be healthy physically you need to be disciplined with exercise and with what you eat. If you want to be healthy emotionally, you need to get plenty of sleep, have a community of people who love you and that you can be honest with. If you want to be healthy mentally you need to be challenging yourself, reading, learning, creating a healthy internal dialogue, knowing your identity and what you believe. If you want to be healthy spiritually you need to be in God's word consistently, pray constantly, practice fasting, taking time to be still and silent, listen to the Holy Spirit and surround yourself with people who can encourage and challenge you to be who God wants you to be. In all of those aspects of life it takes discipline. With each area of life, you are faced with choices to make to pursue health in that area. Those choices determine how you do certain things. I believe that if you make healthy decisions with one area that will help you make a healthy decision in all areas.
I am a walking case study. My diet has always been my achilles heal, Im not unhealthy but I am definitely not the healthy physical adonis that sometimes I convince myself I am. When life is stressful I have a decision to make, Oreos (anything sugary, fatty, etc) or no. For whatever reason I find comfort in comfort foods and that has been evident as I look back over my life. I have seasons of good decision making when it comes to my physical health. There have been seasons of consistent working out, running, eating right. In those seasons I have found that most other areas of my life are operating like they should as well; I am more patient, I spend more time with God, I am emotionally in a better place, I am mentally more clear and intentional. When life gets hard, busy, or not ideal is when the rubber meets the road for me. How I do anything is how I do everything. When I am disciplined in the area that has the most control over my life, the other areas fall in line. When I am undisciplined, I am undisciplined everywhere. Sure, it has taken my 38 years to figure it out, but I have. That doesn't mean I will always have it under control but it means that I know myself a little better than I did years ago and that will inform my future!
How self aware are you? This took me being really honest with myself to get to this point. I don't like admitting my flaws because I desperately want people to think I have it all together. The truth is, I don't. Every day is a new day for tough decisions, choices that will affect other people and other aspects of my life.
How you do anything is how you do everything... change my mind!
What areas of your life influence the other areas of your life?
I have never been a huge “outdoorsy” guy or someone who desires to rock climb, scale a cliff face at Yosemite or scale Everest. That kind of activity isn’t something that gets me going! I can totally understand why people love it. I am sure there is some sense of accomplishment by the actual physical activity but the real reward is making it to the top to see how far you have come. I have been to the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. Why would I climb to the peak when they have a perfectly good road to the top where I can drive and save myself the time? It was incredible to look out over miles and miles of God’s creation. Down the mountain you could see the lush green valley and the city of Colorado Springs. You could also see the Rockies as the mountain range stretched over miles and miles. That moment is etched into my brain, it was awe inspiring. We have these types of moments in our faith as well and they are so important. As a student pastor these mountain top moments may look different for you than it does for your students.
1. Mountain Top moments are when you feel close to God like never before.
Mountain Top Moments make you feel like you are really in the presence of our creator and king. These are powerful and life shaping moments that I believe God uses to give us an idea of whats to come!
I remember being a high school student headed to summer camp in New York. I remember the worship, “This is the Air I breath” was my jam. I remember the speaker, not his name but what he said challenged me to the core. I remember the decisions I made that week to change how I as going about my life. It was a pivotal week in my faith journey. It was one of my first mountain top moments that I will never forget.
2. Are you giving your students the opportunity to have mountain top spiritual moments?
Are you creating times where teenagers can get away from the routine of life they are currently in and spend intentional time with our Savior. We’re talking about Summer Camps, Missions Trips, Retreats, Get Aways, Discipleship Meetings, even regular church programming. These moments are faith-shapers. Teenagers need to know that the mountain isn’t forbidden, its attainable and all are welcome.
Obviously within these moments there is a place to teach, guide and shepherd. Some students feel loss when they lose sight of that feeling and those emotions. The truth is… its ok. It’s ok to feel different and not feel the same. The feelings are not what fuel our faith, its the experience that allow us perspective and allow us self evaluate. God uses that perspective to help us make necessary changes in our lives that propel us into greater knowledge and love for Him.
3. Are you planning for the moments?
Are you looking at your calendar and planning for moments, or times where you want to lean in a little harder to what God may be trying to teach the teenagers you shepherd? Your year starts now, it starts with a plan and ends with praying like everything depends on God (because it does).
What mountain top moments are you praying for this year??