Ran into a college student the other week. She was back in town because her school was evacuating for the Superstorm Sandy. It was good to see her considering the circumstances. We caught up and she shared with me everything that she was learning in class. She then told me about a church community she has joined. It seemed like a place where she was engaged in her faith, and has continued to grow in Christ. As a youth minister there is nothing better than listening to a former student share how he or she is working out their salvation on their own.
Every youth minister needs a picture of what a teen should look like when they graduate high school. It’s the vision you cast for your ministry and it’s the reason why you exist. It’s the type of disciple of Christ you want to mold them into.
Every week you instill in them the habits of prayer, fellowship, Bible study, ministry, mission among a few others. While there are a few basic habits that every student in your ministry should know, there are a few that will help them with the transition of high school to college. While prayer and scripture are ones they should embrace throughout all seasons; there are a few that are necessary as they go from adolescence to adulthood. A few of them are:
- Honoring God With Their Budgets – When a teenager goes to college they aren’t going to have parents over their shoulders telling them what to do and what not to do with their money. They’ll have credit card companies bombarding them to sign up. It’s important for youth ministries to teach basic budgeting skills paired with Biblical teaching so that they can discern between greed and generosity. This might mean creating a workshop for teens and their parents. It might mean sitting down with them in small group and writing out a budget. A great resource that we’ve used is Dave Ramsey’s Generation Change.
- Connecting With Their Elders For Wisdom – Again, teens won’t have their parents or you with them to give them advice. Granted they could call you up; however, what you want to be teaching them is how to seek advice from other God honoring adults. This will help them when they face a situation where they are too embarrassed or ashamed to tell their parents. To do this you need to facilitate intergenerational ministry into your programs. That can be small groups lead by adults; however, look to have teens serve with adults in your church.
- Investing In A Local Church – You don’t want teens graduating their faith when they graduate high school. That’s why it’s not only important to teach spiritual habits that build their personal relationship with Christ; but their public one as well. In order for the church to grow we need teens to invest in the local church. This means showing them what to look for when they graduate. Have them serve inside the local church so that they can see how to be a part of one. Take them on trips to visit other churches so that they can discover the uniqueness of the Body of Christ.
There are so many habits to teach this next generation and if you think of them all you could feel overwhelmed. When it comes to choosing the best ones for your ministry you need to know which ones will have the greatest impact after they are no longer in your ministry. While there are core habits like prayer, scripture study and serving, there are ones that will help them transition from adolescence into adulthood.
What other specific spiritual habits would you add to the list?