3 Ways to Kickstart Your Students’ Spiritual Growth
2016 is here. Get your students ready to have a year like no other.
The answer is “YES!” Here are three of them …
1. Pray for them and get them praying!
The great first-century church prayer warrior Epaphras shows us how to pray with impact. Paul wrote these telling words about his spiritual co-worker, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
Praying for your teenagers accelerates the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, breaks down Satanic strongholds and pushes the spiritual gas pedal down in their souls. Never underestimate prayer power when it comes to seeing your teenagers spiriutally transformed. Pray for them and get others to pray for them, but don’t stop there …
Get your teenagers praying too! Do a series on how to pray, tie prayer into worship sets, get students praying for the salvation of their unreached friends and the spiritual transformation of their Christian friends. This brand of intercessory prayer will help build in them a Christ-centered, other-focused perspective, which becomes a fertile ground for faster-than-usual spiritual growth.
2. Use a question-based approach to teaching God’s Word.
Jesus taught by asking questions. Throughout the Gospels the Master-Rabbi-Teacher asked somewhere around 300 questions to his friends and foes. At Dare 2 Share we encourage youth leaders to use what we have nicknamed an “A.L.T.ernative” teaching style.
A.L.T. stands for: Ask. Listen. Teach.
When you ask questions like, “How do we really know there is a God?” or “Will people who never hear the Gospel still go to hell?” or “Does it really matter if Jesus rose from the dead physically?” it allows teenagers to share what they really believe. As they express their beliefs, don’t immediately correct them. Listen to them deeply. Try to find out not just what they believe but why they believe it. Affirm their honesty (not their heresy!) and then take them to the Scriptures.
This style of teaching will show them how authoritative and comprehensive the Word of God is. It will also help them realize that the Word of God is more than capable of handling their toughest questions. After a few sessions of A.L.T.ernative teaching, your teens will have a new appreciation for the Word of God’s relevance and your willingness to listen to them deeply and then point them to the Word of God for answers.
3. Put them in situations where their faith can be stretched and strengthened.
Tim Keller said, “Teenagers have a lot of information about God, but little experience of Him. Teens need to be put in positions where they are forced to rely on God.”
Maybe this is why mission trips are so effective. They force teenagers to rely on God like never before. This accelerates the spiritual development process like no curriculum ever could.
Even more effective than mission trips to a foreign country are the mission trips your teenagers take every day to their schools. As I’ve said before, if you give the average teenager a choice to go to the Amazon to build a mud hut for the poor while fighting off pythons or going to their school cafeteria and dropping the message of Jesus on a group of their classmates, most would choose the pythons. They’d rather risk getting choked by a giant snake than getting choked out of their peer group.
This risk forces them to trust in God and plug into Christ to energize them to gospelize their peers. This connection to Jesus is the ultimate key to kickstarting spiritual growth. Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
These three simple action steps will help your teenagers grow deeper faster. Put them into practice and watch what God will do in them and through them!
What are some more ways a youth leader can kickstart the spiritual growth of their teenagers?