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A healthy youth ministry is all about helping students become more like Jesus. This is no easy task since the challenges and distractions are boundless. Many teenagers have a hard time carving out time for God when there are hundreds of television shows, web pages, Facebook posts, and text messages to consume daily. Entertainment has captured attention and has it under lock and key with little hope of parole.

Teenagers face internal challenges as well. They are at an age where they are struggling to forge their identity and find personal meaning. The resulting internal battles are intense, making it difficult to focus on spiritual issues.

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Chart a course for four years of personal, spiritual, and social growth rooted in the truths and teachings of the Bible.
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As youth ministry leaders, we also have our own hurdles too. It’s normal to be plagued with a doubt and confusion that results in wonder:
+ Do I have something to offer?
+ Am I knowledgable enough about the Bible?
+ Can I really connect with a teenager?

When you add up these challenges, it feels like everything is at odds with helping teenagers grow spiritually. Of course, those of us who have experienced God’s power in our own life know that isn’t true! Thankfully God is working to draw all of us closer to him. So, how can we get involved in that work and come alongside what he’s already doing?

This week, we’re going to explore some ideas for developing teenage disciples and how we might help them take the next spiritual step. Today we will quickly cover a few general principles that we have both been using for years while working with teenagers. Tomorrow we’ll explore some ways to help students stand up to temptation. And we will finish up the week by looking at how to help teenagers discover their identity in Christ.

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Chart a course for four years of personal, spiritual, and social growth rooted in the truths and teachings of the Bible.
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Here are three thoughts to consider for taking kids deeper:

FIRST THINGS FIRST
We feel strongly that the first step towards discipling teenagers is to make sure the leader’s faith is his/her number one priority. For most of us, this goes without saying. However, for all of us, this is a very real struggle to be both consistent and genuine. In ministry, it’s too easy to focus on helping others know God that we forget to take time to let God nurture our own souls. When we are spiritually connected to the Vine, we will disciple naturally from the overflow of God’s work in us.

ASK QUESTIONS
Until you’ve perfected the art of asking questions, we encourage you to keep developing this essential youth ministry skill–questions are powerful. We want our students to OWN THEIR FAITH, we’re not preparing them to pass a state mandated, multiple-choice, spiritual IQ test. Yes, teenagers need more than questions, they need answers, instruction, and teaching. Merely asking questions can lead to confusion and eventual cynicism. On the other hand, “answers” without questions will generate superficial disciples.

BE TRANSPARENT
Get personal and talk about your own faith journey with students. Talk about your passions, the lessons you’re learning, and the struggles you’re facing. The best lessons are more than facts and information and clever catch phrases. When discipleship is personal, it’s more powerful because it’s memorable.
 

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