The eyes of our students have shifted from camps and mission trips to the daily grind. If you are one of the lucky few who get to start post-Labor Day, that first day of school is looming right on the horizon. It’s easy for our students to immediately get caught up in expectations of teachers, friend drama and their latest crush, and to push their relationship with Christ to a crumpled corner of their closet.
We may have already put all of our Fall planning down on the calendar, but don’t underestimate the value of encouraging our students to take ownership of their faith this school year.
What are some ways we can give them a spiritual boost?
Help With Daily Habits To Take It Up
The number one excuse for not having daily time with the Lord I hear from the three teens I live with and others in my group is, “I don’t really have time.” or another variation is, “The Bible is just hard to read.” The question really should be, “Are you wanting to get closer to Jesus this year?” They think studying the Bible has to be hours long, and they don’t think they know how to pray. Help them with some tiny applicable practices to include their relationship with Christ in their day. Show them there are Bible Apps with simple daily devotions or buy them a paper devotional of some kind, teach them how to talk to God and listen for his voice. Don’t underestimate the value of checking in on them and holding them accountable to spending time with God. Find out what they are learning everyday from the Lord, moving their faith from one more program and deeper into a relationship. I often say we can’t trust someone we don’t know. How are they looking up to the Lord and growing closer to Him above everything else?
Help Them Figure Out How To Live It Inward
Not only are they spending time one on one with the Lord, students need help learning how to stop sabotaging their relationship with him. The people we hang out with, what we watch and listen to, and where we spend most of our time can all lend itself to drawing us toward or away from the Lord. The world is bombarding students telling them who and what they are not. They will walk the halls of school and someone will tell them what is wrong with them. Students need to understand they can take a hold of an offense that will prepare them for these moments. It isn’t just fitting in some Jesus time that will help them counteract these constant feelings of inadequacy. That is ONE piece of the puzzle. Teach them how to navigate who and what to speak into their lives.
Turn Lessons Into Action, So They Can Take It Outward
For those students who attended camp, mission trips and conferences this summer, they most likely had a moment that inspired their walk with the Lord. We go away spend focused time with Jesus and then come home. Since we don’t always know what to do with what we have learned, we chalk it up to a feel good moment and move on. Have conversations with your students on ways they can take their lessons of the summer and put them into the action during the school year. Inspire students to know what it means to love their neighbor as themselves making service a lifestyle and not an activity. This means stopping and helping others in need whether at home, school, friends or other students. Compassion should move us to action. Help students to know what this looks like in their everyday lives. Simply Youth Ministry just released a 4-week series on helping students start the school year off focused on Jesus. Check out LIVE Back to School: The Starting Line! Don’t wait too long though. It is only available until September 30, 2015.
The bottom line is we need to help our students know their faith shouldn’t be compartmentalized. It’s always easy to look towards the next meeting, retreat or conference to help them know Jesus better. Remind them that if they keep seeking Him with their whole heart, they will find him, but they have to actually seek him. A friend of mine always says our relationships with Christ pushes us to look up (in a back and forth relationship with the Lord), in (learning to go deeper with him), and out (bringing him to the world). If they can grab hold of the reality that Jesus isn’t just in youth group, then they will take that bigger step grabbing ahold of his love and then the desire will grow to share him with all they meet.
Also, check out these great devotional resources to help students grow in their faith, including the NEW Speaking of Jesus: Student Edition by Carl Medearis.