Matt: When I was about 13 years old I realized that I had “super Christians” for parents. I wasn’t worried about this whole God thing or heaven because I was certain that their good works were enough to get them and my whole family into Heaven. I remember one day asking my mom if I could skip church the next day to go to a Detroit Tiger’s baseball game. She sat me down and told me that I was at the age where I could make my own decisions about going to church and that if I wanted to go to a baseball game that was my choice, but that I should pray about it that night. I did, and well, you guessed it I passed on the baseball game and went to church.
It was that week that my mom made it clear to me that I had to start making some decisions about Christ and that my decisions, not hers or my dad’s, would determine my relationship with God. I can still remember that week was a life changing week for me in my walk with God. But what about students you may have in your group that don’t have parents that are believers? Or parents that have never had that conversation with their sons or daughters? This is a lesson that needs to be taught to students. Small group is the perfect place.
Find out from your students:
1. Where they are in their walk with God. Are they all in, or just along for the ride?
2. Make them realize that God wants the decision to be up to each one of us to follow and love him, not because someone told us we should or that because my parents are “Super Christians” does not mean that I’m going to Heaven without accepting Jesus.
3. Teach students that growing in Christ never ends, we need to keep being fed and keep learning and loving God, every day.
4. Be the best example you can be for students in how you live your life. They are watching us all the time and they know if you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
Steven: As someone that works mostly with junior high students, the idea of students finding ownership of their faith is a huge deal. Starting in 7th grade, our students start to feel the pull of maturity and they begin to question everything they’ve previously taken for granted. They start pushing the boundaries of right and wrong to see what they can get away with, and they start experimenting with their thoughts and beliefs.
Because this is such a crucial age for students to decide for themselves what they’re going to do with this “God thing,” we have a huge responsibility to take advantage of this questioning time. We can either leave them alone to their own questioning, or we can step in and try to help them understand what faith looks like apart from their parents. I don’t know about you, but it makes a whole lot more sense to me to help them understand rather than letting them drift along.
We need to recognize that students have growing to do, and we can either be a part of that process or not. We can encourage them to seek God in their lives, to live in a way that is set apart from the world, or we can stand by while they sort it out for themselves through a lot of trial and error. We can also be an example to them of what a Christian life looks like, and that can speak volumes in the way of helping them understand their own personal faith.