Is there anything better than a re-start?
Remember the excitement of the first day of school? The first day of college? Sometimes I feel that same excitement as I think about next year’s camp, next year’s retreat or whatever is happening next in my youth ministry. There is just something about a blank page and a clean slate that reminds me anything is possible.
And, this year we may have the biggest re-start we’ve ever experienced in ministry. Fall of 2021 will be the first real back-to-school in a couple of years. Winter of 2021 will be the first time many of us can dream of having retreats or planning for camps again. There is so much opportunity to re-imagine what we do—which is good because we have a lot to reimagine.
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s this:
If we want teenagers to have a real, personal faith, then they must participate in their faith outside our programming.
After all, programming isn’t guaranteed. We won’t always be with them, and if we want the generation entrusted to us to have a vibrant, personal faith after they leave our doors, we have to help them find an everyday faith while they’re with us.
Going Beyond A Sunday Faith
As we’ve been dreaming about the future of the church, we keep coming back to this question:
How do we help middle schoolers and high schoolers develop an everyday faith?
An everyday faith apart from your weekly program or bible study.
A faith that doesn’t waver if basketball practice requires them to miss church, or if an after school job means they can’t make it to youth group, or if a global event means we can’t host programming at all.
How do we help middle schoolers and high schoolers move beyond the cosmetic faith practices that look good on Sunday into a deeper personal relationship with Jesus that affects their Monday?
I think we need a strategy.
A plan to help teenagers own their own faith,
A plan to help teenagers develop an everyday kind of faith that goes with them everywhere, into everything.
A faith that transforms their sense identity, belonging, and purpose—everyday.
And like any relationship, getting to know God takes intentionality, effort and time spent together. And while it doesn’t happen in a moment, here at Orange we think there are four specific skills (or maybe you call them spiritual habits) we can help our students develop in order for them to know God better and build an everyday faith of their own:
- Hear: Hearing from God through His Word
- Pray: Talking to God
- Talk: Talking with others about our faith
- Live: Living in a way that honors God
Of course, you knew that already.
Chances are your own faith has grown by hearing, praying, talking and living for God.
So what’s the strategy to invite the next generation into the habits that have transformed our own everyday faith?
Defining a Devotional Strategy
We’ve created a strategy and some new tools around these four faith skills to help your teenagers practice the skills essential to developing an everyday faith (even when they can’t attend your programming).
Here Are The Main Ingredients:
1. An Every Day Devo
If you’re already a subscriber to XP3 Curriculum, you can find printable daily devos or invite your students to participate digitally using the YouVersion Bible App. No subscription? We’ve got you. These devos are also part of the Faith Skills Experience Kits available on the Orange Store. And, we have big news! We have upgraded the devotionals so at least one day each week is written by students (ages 11-19) around the world. Not only will students practice the faith skills daily, but they’ll also get to read devos through the eyes of peers from different contexts and cultures, which helps develop empathy and raise their EQ.
2. An Every Week Experience.
Like so many other skills, discipleship takes practice—and the best way to practice almost anything is together. That’s why we created the Faith Skills Experience Kit. Each kit includes 12-weeks of guided devotional experiences with strategic activities so your teenagers can discover how to hear from God, pray to God, talk about God, and live for God, as well as the daily devotionals so they can practice those skills every day of the week. This weekly experience can happen with a small group of students, a large group of students, one-on-one, or even led by a student and was designed to work well in any context, whether you’re in a church, in the parking lot, meeting in a coffee shop or hanging out on Zoom. More on this in a moment!
3. An Every Year goal
There will be moments every student needs to go deeper or spend a little more time on a devotional habit with some guided practice. That’s why we want every student to practice with a devotional journal at least once per year (and maybe more!). These student devotionals will help a teenager dive deeper into a specific topic and work great individually, as gifts, or as a practice with a mentor.
Understanding The New Faith Skills Experience Kit
The Faith Skills Experience Kit contains everything you need for groups of students to practice their faith skills together each week and individually each day.
As part of the Faith Skills Experience Kit, you’ll get leader and participant guides to lead students through weekly activities that can happen at a coffee shop, in a backyard, or at church. Then, printable and digital devotionals allow students to practice their faith skills at home each day. Download a sample of the kit for middle school and high school.
What’s Included In The Faith Skill Experience Kit?
- 12 weeks of Devotional Experiences that include activities to exercise the Four Faith Skills (Hear, Live, Talk, Pray). In Each Devotional Experiences You’ll Get…
- Leader Preparation Material: This is what you’ll need to prepare to lead this experience.
- Leader Guides: This is your “lesson plan” for leading this experience.
- Participant Guides: This is any interactive journal page that participants will need to complete the activity.
- 12 Weeks of Daily Devotionals available as printable weekly pages or as a digital devotional on the YouVersion Bible App.
- Social Media Promotional Images to share about this experience on your social media channels.
Who Is The Kit For?
This reimagined version of the Expansion Pack is great for anyone who . . .
- Wants to launch a devotional strategy
- Hosts more than one weekly gathering for their students
- Leads students who want to lead their peers in a group study
- Provides additional small group time outside of regular programming
Does The Kit Work With XP3 Curriculum?
Each devotional experience is designed so that it makes sense and can stand alone if a student doesn’t attend your weekly gathering or you don’t use our curriculum. But we also designed this devotional strategy to be most powerful when aligned with XP3 curriculum.
how do I get started?
As adults, we know the value of developing a daily devotional habit, but how do you convince your middle schoolers or high schoolers?
If you’re a curriculum partner, you already have access to the Habits series in your curriculum downloader. All you’ll need to add is the Faith Skills Experience Kit.
If you don’t use XP3 curriculum, don’t sweat. We made something just for you!
We created a Launch Kit that includes the new Faith Skills Experience Kit, PLUS our 5-Week curriculum series HABITS to kick off a devotional strategy. Check out the launch kit for middle school, and high school in the Orange Store today.
Connecting The Dots To Create An Everyday Faith
As an educator, one thing I know for sure is the most effective way to retain information, to move it from short-term to long-term memory, is to actually DO something to apply the information we learn.
That’s why so many of us have small groups already during our weekly programming. We want students to hear and then process and practice what they’re learning.
But, can you imagine if that repetition happened more than one time each week? If your students were connecting with the same idea daily through devotionals that reinforcing and reminding them of the same truth they learned in your program?
And THEN, what if they had an experience to help them actually practice the skills that are needed to apply that same truth they read about in their devotionals to their own lives?
Whether you use XP3 curriculum for your program, the Faith Skills Experience Kit for your devotional strategy, or both working together—we hope you’ll help activate a faith in the next generation that moves from Sunday to everyday. A faith that will stand through crisis, pandemic, natural disaster, and whatever life throws their way.
I don’t know about you, but I get excited when I think about the future of the church with a generation full of middle schoolers and high schoolers who are pursuing a daily, personal faith of their own.
And, as you plan your next year of ministry I’m praying that you and the teenagers in your ministry experience the most powerful kind of faith there is—an everyday faith.