Faith Ownership In Students: Part 3 – Helping Unchurched Students

As we sat in small group, James was asking amazing questions about how to truly follow the Lord.  I could tell this discussion on, “Belonging to Christ,” had caught his attention.  Here’s an interesting fact, he is an “unchurched” student with NOT ONE family member or friend  outside of our group who knows Christ much less knows the Lord.   This week he and I had a conversation on exactly what the Bible is,  who wrote it,  why there is an Old and New Testament,  and why the Word of God is important.    This was vital before we could get into the “meat” of anything else.  He has no foundational point of view, no base knowledge of concepts.

Teenager Youth Ministry

I hear more and more conversations about “raising the bar,” for our students.  An abundance of articles and talks seem to be surfacing that talk about teaching them to be leaders of the faith.  Part of this is to become what we call, a “self-feeder.”  They must grow in wisdom, stature,  and favor with God and man.   A main step in this process is that they learn the “Word” is living and active and where we can go when we have no clue what God is saying.

Yes, yes you agree.  However, I find this expectation of growth is really only for our apathetic students who have grown up in the pews.   We are excited that “James” even showed up.  I would contend that we must “raise the bar” for all of our students.   A strategic approach can push our “unchurched” students to “self- feed” as well.

How do we do it?

  1. Translation:  This is vital.  There is often a debate as to which one is the “closest to the original language.”  If they can’t understand it,  they won’t ever read it.   My favorites are NLT,  CEV and NIrV.  Anything that makes the complicated clear, is perfect.  Sit and try out a couple with a student.  Print off multiple passages on a page  from different version, then ask your student which one makes the most sense.
  2. Inspire:  As you read the Word in a program setting,  give homework.  If all of your group doesn’t have a Bible (yet) send a passage home printed.  Try a “Mission Impossible” Theme,  giving each student a “mission” for the week.   The next week follow up.  Help them see they can find the answers to life questions,  with God,  on their own.
  3. Teach and Follow Up:  Students want to know where to start?  How do we read?  What do I do?  Often they start in Genesis and get bored by Leviticus. Do they need to know who Jesus is?  Tell them where the Gospels are.  Do they need to know about the love of Christ?  Tell them to start in 1 John.  What about “issues” in life?  Help them go through Romans to understand the ideas of sin and reconciliation. Then each time you see them, ask them how it is going,  and what they learned that week.
  4. Start small: Give your student a devotional with a passage that will inspire them to dig deeper in some small way.  Direct them to go to the Word and start with one verse a day.  Write it on an index card.   On the other side write what it means to them.  Encourage them to show you the cards in the week.  Show them how they are “hearing” from the Lord directly,  without you there.
  5. Journal:  Give students time during group (5 minutes) to read a verse and journal what they think God is saying to them through it.   Take it , read it,  write them back.  Encourage them,  on ways they are seeing the Lord in His Word.  (Obviously,  let them know you will be reading.)

We all know that learning to grow in the Lord,  is a discipline that will last a lifetime.   If we truly want  “James” to learn how to walk out life with Christ,  then he HAS to learn to seek him on his own.  Sometimes it is as simple as expecting that he will want to,  and that he will.

What have you tried with your unchurched students? What is working? What ideas can you share?