Thousands of youth let out a collective sigh this Monday as schools all over this nation unlocked their doors. Within the next couple of weeks all students will have left summer behind for desks and a pack of freshly sharpened pencils. Memories of camps, missions trips and life altering encounters with Christ are still freshly etched in the forefront of their mind. Unfortunately, it will only take a mild amount of life pressure, real or perceived for many to trade in all their enthusiasm for Jesus. The youth leader in all of us will be discouraged when those who were “on fire for the Lord” seem to become apathetic.
How then do we help our youth to remember the Jesus of the “summer” wants every part of their lives?
Feelings Come And Go
I think it’s fair to say we all agree it’s “easy” to know Christ when the only expectation is to focus on HIM. Camp and mission trips schedule devotional times, and often service. Whether it’s lack of sleep or time to stop, many of our youth had deep emotional reactions to their times in these places. The Lord changed them deeply and they could FEEL Him at work. Teach your students the “high” they experienced may dull, or it may return with the next retreat, conference or mission they attend. In contrast if we are always seeking a “feeling” of elation we just might miss the depth of who Jesus is, and how He is ALWAYS at work in us and around us. The truth is not contingent on whether or not we are “moved.”
Christ Still Wants Our Time
Schedules begin to creep in. It starts with the necessities of life and moves to sports, drama, and for some jobs. They can think there isn’t another minute in their day for th
e Lord. However, that deep conviction they had while away propelled them forward and closer to Him. Help them come up with ways they can practically succeed at both getting closer to Christ and showing the world who He is in their life. Could they get up just 5 minutes earlier everyday and read their Bible? What about writing a verse on a sticky note and placing it somewhere they look all day? How about praying as they ride to school? Encourage them to simply tell THEIR story of God’s work in their lives with friends.
Service Is A Lifestyle
They might be looking for the next time you “set- up” a service opportunity. While projects and trips are great opportunities these should only ever be catalysts to a lifestyle of helping. Help them find ways to give both Big and Small on a regular basis. What about sitting next to som
eone whose alone at lunch? What about noticing when someone needs an extra hand in the grocery store? Yes, visit the sick in the hospitals, the aging in the nursing homes, the shut-ins connected with your church, and give food out at the food bank. Let them know service is not an event, then find ways to get them out of their comfort zone and give some more.
Jesus Is In the Lunch Hall
And the gym, English class, at home, on the bus… Part of the reason entering the routine of school is so hard for so many is, it hurts there. They might be dealing with bullies, failing classes or just the regular peer pressure that comes with JH/HS, on top of anything difficult NOT in school. They pray for complicated situations to dissipate and instead things get worse. I have heard more than once that the Lord has forgotten them because things “aren’t working out.” Christ hasn’t left them. Instead in those moments He
cries with us, and loves us as deeply as ever. Keep reminding them HE NEVER LEAVES, while talking with them as they wrestle with all that is “unfair.”
As our youth enter routine, and their school days the most vital offering we can give is the reminder God and HIS LOVE is the only unwavering constant in our world. How would next summer be transformed if they were growing in the Lord all year long?
What are you doing to actively aid students in their daily relationship with the Lord as they go back to school?