Your student ministry ought to be a place where students come to be spiritually fed! However, it also ought to be a place where students are trained and resourced to be able to feed spiritually on their own as well. Most ministries unintentionally drift away from equipping students to spend time on their own with the Lord. On this episode of the Multiply! Podcast, Brian has a conversation with Brent Finchum about how we can help students learn to feed themselves spiritually. Brent is the Southeast Regional Coordinator with Word of Life Local Church Ministries and lives in Alabama with his wife and four kids.
The church has changed within the last century which created some unintentional results, both good and bad. Since these results are the realities we deal with in ministry, we need to learn how to leverage even the discouraging statistics for growth.
40-87% of students leave the church after graduating High School. What can we do about this? Family members provide the greatest influences on students’ lives. If we want to influence students, we need to be working with their families.
The church has responded to this well with a rise in family ministers, pastors, and age specific ministries. However, even this positive response has led to unexpected results.
Parents have begun handing off the teaching of the “God stuff” (the spiritual teaching and training) of their students to the professionals, rather than making it a priority to teach in the home.
Students themselves often end up seeing the youth pastor as the only way they hear from God. This takes the tools of interacting with God’s Word right out of their hands and now students often feel intimidated when approaching God’s Word on their own. They feel they need help.
Many churches teach God’s Word on Sundays well, but do nothing to assist students in navigating the scriptures on their own. This is a disservice.
Youth ministers must purposely plan to teach their students to become independent in their own searching of the scriptures.
It can be a difficult task to commit to making sure students are in the Word of God on their own and making it one of your pillars of ministry and a measure of your success.
The training of students in independent Bible study needs to be made a priority, worthy of commitment from both students and their coaches.
Coaches need to remember to love students enough to continuously bring them back to the importance of God’s word, because it is necessary for their spiritual survival.
Teach them to start feeding themselves:
First, find a tool to use for independent Bible study that provides a chance for accountability and dialogue.
- Word of Life Quiet Time Family Devotionals – journals each made for different ages, but all focus on corresponding passages. This allows for dialogue within the home while each doing their own personal Bible Study.
- Other free tools – There are plenty available. Be sure what you choose provides for daily Bible study and discussion with others.
Second, hold students accountable by talking about what they have learned. Challenge them individually, taking baby steps with how often they study. Praise any progress they make, no matter how small. Minimal growth is still growth.
To Wrap It Up:
• This is nothing new, but a good reminder for us to focus on as we prepare for a new year.
• We need to be in the Word ourselves, leading by example. Family members influence students, so get tools for independent Bible study into their hands.
• Remember to focus on what God would see as successful growth, creating disciples that look like growing believers in the Bible. Unseen growth will eventually translate into measurable growth.
firstname.lastname@example.org – email Brian with questions on Word of Life’s Quiet Time, other resources and any other questions.
Word of Life Quiet Time Journals – https://wolstore.org/collections/quiet-times