As much as I wish students would clear their calendars and see weekly youth ministry programming as a not-to-be-missed part of their week, it just isn’t. And that’s okay, because attendance is one thing. But it isn’t EVERYTHING. (Can someone please tell that person who always asks “good turn out last night?”)
The reality is that only twenty-two percent of Americans attend church every week.
Ouch. Twenty-two percent. Therein lies the challenge and the opportunity.
That is why a robust strategy to help students grow their faith outside of weekly programming is important. So much of life happens outside of church environments.
Spiritual Habits to Grow Your Faith
If we want teenagers to have personal faith, then they must practice their faith outside our programming. It has to be more than a once-a-week thing or a once-in-awhile-thing.
When you help to grow a student’s faith outside of your weekly program, you are teaching them how to follow Jesus in their everyday life instead of just attending something once a week. Something we already know they are not (always) doing anyway.
At Orange, we think there are four specific skills or spiritual habits we can help students develop in order for them to know God better and build an everyday faith of their own:
1. Hear: Hearing from God through His Word
2. Pray: Talking to God
3. Talk: Talking with others about our faith
4. Live: Living in a way that honors God
How exactly do you help students grow on their own? To develop these faith skills?
Here are four practices to help students grow in their faith outside of your program.
Provide opportunities for students to practice faith skills.
One of the best ways to make anything a habit is through practice. This is true for the four faith skills or spiritual habits too. If you want students to practice the four faith skills outside of your programming, give them opportunities to practice them inside of your programming in the context of community.
You can use the Faith Skills Experience Kits to help students practice the four faith skills either in your extra programming or on their own throughout the week. Plus, the Faith Skills Experience Kits align with our curriculum, so they can dive deeper into what they are already learning in your weekly programming.
Learn More About the Faith Skills Experience Kit
Orange Student Blog: A New Devotional Strategy for Students
Mobilize students to serve.
When you give students intentional opportunities to love and serve people, to notice the needs of others and to meet those needs, then you are teaching them how to use their gifts and passions to BE the Church instead of just attending church. You can help students learn to serve and LIVE out their faith in a way that honors God through service opportunities. Need ideas?
Orange Leaders Resource: Serving Ideas Through the Phases
Orange Students Blog: Mobilizing Students to Serve
Help parents and caregivers have faith centered conversations.
Students might think their small group leader is way more fun to hang out with than their parents or caregiver. And that sometimes might be true. Small group leaders are pretty awesome. However, parents and caregivers will always have more influence. Help parents and caregivers know how to TALK through what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like. Help them communicate how faith isn’t just about one moment, or one decision, or something we only talk about at Easter and Christmas.
Empower the people in your students’ lives to be ready for everyday faith-filled conversations with these conversation guides you can find here:
Parent Cue Resource: Life Maps
Get them into scripture in a way they can access on their own every day.
Teens and preteens clock in an average of over 100 minutes a day on Youtube and TikTok.
Students (and adults TBH) often look to their devices first for communication, photos, homework help, important updates, and entertainment. Which is why using digital Bible reading plans in your ministry can help students hear from God through scripture and engage with the Bible in a way they are already familiar with.
Take advantage of the digital devotionals created to correspond with each series for both XP3 Middle School and XP3 High School.
Having the devotionals available on the Bible app means that anyone associated with your ministry can find them. Anyone in your ministry can use them. And anyone can follow along with your teaching content even when they are not attending your ministry every week. Each devotional reading encourages students to think through one of the four faith skills: hear, talk, pray, or live. For more about how to use digital devotional plans in your ministry, check out:
Orange Students Blog: Using Digital Devotional Plans In Your Youth Ministry
Orange Students Blog: Daily Devotionals for Students
Opportunities to serve others, to engage in faith conversations with the important adults in their life, and digital daily Bible reading plans are three ways to help students develop an everyday faith. When a student starts to grow on their own outside of programming you just might find that they start to prioritize weekly gatherings as they become more committed to their own relationship with Jesus and value a faith community of their own.
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