What they believe.
One of our main purposes in our student ministry is to equip our students to understand and grasp their faith. Owning one’s faith is vital to spiritual growth and success. It is sad to see a student go off to college and then a liberal, non-believing, professor blows their faith apart. Why is this even possible? The professor knows what he believes even though what he knows is wrong. The professor is firmly established in his belief system, even if he believes in nothing.
Our students have to be stronger in knowing what they believe. Ask a student, or even many church going adults, what they believe and they will tell you they believe in God and Jesus but their knowledge of God and Jesus goes nowhere beyond that point.
Reason behind their Faith
Why they believe.
When a student knows what they believe they need to be able to back it up with why they believe. Belief is what saves but knowledge of their faith is what helps them grow and stand firm. Ask a student “Why do you believe in God?”. We as youth ministers need to be answering those types of questions as we teach, we need to give them the “ammunition” to be able to back up what they believe. They need to be ready to give an answer as to why they believe.
God’s Word is unchanging.
Students need to grasp that God’s Word does not change. We live in a fluid culture that is constantly changing. What was taboo ten years ago is now accepted as normal. When God’s Word says something is sin then it will always be sin regardless of what our society, culture or even government says about it. When students grasp that God’s word is unchanging they will be encouraged because that means God’s love for them is unchanging. With the divorce rate in America and the constant going back and forth between living with one parent then the other students need something to hold onto that is constant and consistent and God is unchanging.
Grow their Faith
Growth requires investment and times of stretching.
Students need to establish the habit in their life of spending time daily in His word and in prayer. Anything that grows has to be fed. What is the diet of your students? What is it they are taking in on a daily basis? In many churches we have adults showing up to be fed, some will even leave a church on the basis of “I wasn’t being fed”. At some point in our faith we have to know how to feed ourselves. If a 13 year old kid can’t feed himself food at meal time people will look and say, “something is wrong with that kid”. Same thing goes with us as believers. As we grow in our faith part of that growth has to be feeding ourselves. We have to eat more than once a week. Many Christians are anemic because they only get fed by the pastor on Sunday mornings. That’s the only spiritual meal they eat each week.
Share their Faith
We aren’t meant to keep our faith to ourselves, it’s personal but not private.
Sharing our faith should flow naturally and be part of our daily lives and interaction with our world around us. I, as a youth pastor, have been guilty of focusing on “bring your friend to youth group to hear the gospel” when I should have been focusing on equipping students to share their faith with their friends. When a student shares their faith with a friend and eventually that friend comes to know Christ coming to church will follow. Should they invite their friends? Yes. Should they learn to invest in their friend’s lives? Most definitely. Jesus last words to his disciples was his command for them to go into all the world and share the gospel. Sharing one’s faith is part of becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. We need to equip students and encourage students to share their faith.
Some practical things we can do in our student ministry to move towards accomplishing the five areas about faith listed above:
- Investment from adults in the church. We need adults on our team who love teenagers and desire to help teens grow in their faith. Adults who can model discipleship to students.
A balanced plan or strategy. We need to plan out our messages/lessons well in advance with a plan to answer questions about faith. If your plan is to figure out on Thursday what you will teach next Wednesday night you need a better plan than that. Sit down with some students and adults and look at entire year and come up with plan.
- Apologetics. Look for opportunities to share helpful information to help students defend their faith. Books, conferences, messages, small group discussion, etc.
- Pull in current events into messages to teach students about God’s unchanging truth.
- Equip, teach and supply students with what they need to study God’s Word on their own. Give them quiet time journals, teach them a strategy, model this with your own life.
You can find helpful resources for equipping student in their faith here: LeaderTreks Deep Discipleship - a systematic approach to discipleship
Download Youth Ministry - great teaching series that you can purchase. Simply Youth Ministry - teaching series, quiet time and devotional material Group Publishing